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2018 - Launching into action

Working from new purpose-built headquarters after its official launch in August, the ACSC and its network of Joint Cyber Security Centres (JCSCs) across the country are building on decades of quiet success by Australian agencies.

The ACSC, part of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), demonstrates the Australian Government's commitment to cyber security in a world where new threats are always emerging.

'From the lounge room to the boardroom, the ACSC is implementing the ASD's new remit that sees it working with people and organisations in the public and private sectors,' said Alastair MacGibbon, Head of the ACSC.

'Working together 24/7 to safeguard critical systems, helping to find and fix vulnerabilities, and, ultimately, striving to change behaviour as we grow cyber resilience across the economy is essential,' Mr MacGibbon said.

Joint report on hacking tools

A joint report on publicly available hacking tools was released in 2018 to limit the effectiveness of tools commonly used by malicious actors.

This collaborative research effort by the cyber security authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States aims to provide network defenders and systems administrators with advice and detection tips.

The tools detailed fall into five categories:

  • Remote Access Tools
  • Web Shells
  • Credential Stealers
  • Lateral Movement Frameworks
  • Command and Control Obfuscators.

Inspiring a new generation

Australia's best young cyber stars were recognised in Cyber Security Challenge Australia (CySCA), the nation's flagship hacking competition for tertiary students.

The ASD and industry partners run the challenge to address the critical cyber security skills shortage by encouraging young Australians to pursue a career in the field.

'This is an event to encourage our young people to really get involved in cyber security,' said Lynn Moore, Head of Engagement, Operations and Intelligence at the ACSC.

'Seeing this event in its infancy when it first started in 2012 and seeing it now, it's terrific to see how far we've come,' she said.

Students from the University of New South Wales and Monash University were the overall winners. Prizes were also awarded for the highest ranking teams from the first year, women's and TAFE categories, with students from Macquarie University, Canberra Institute of Technology and Box Hill Institute recognised for their standout performances.

It's in the manual

The 2018 Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM) released by the ACSC supports organisations to protect their information and ICT systems. The ISM also complements the Australian Government's Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF).

The ISM is updated annually to make sure people are best equipped to tackle the security risks associated with prevailing cyber threats. What hasn't changed is each organisation's responsibility to protect their people, information and assets.

Updates to the ISM this year included:

  • changes to reflect the updated Australian Government Security Classification Scheme to be introduced as part of PSPF reforms
  • the addition of new controls to support the implementation of the ASD's 'Essential Eight' mitigation strategies
  • changes to streamline and simplify existing content.

'You can't be what you can't see'

A masterclass in national security' is how many participants described the Women in National Security Conference hosted by the Australian National University's National Security College in Canberra.

The event in November featured a diverse line-up, including Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell, Wujal Wujal people from eastern Cape York, academics, analysts, diplomats and the ACSC's Amy Roberts -- who manages programs such as CySCA and Women in Cyber Mentoring Events -- and her panel of talented young women from the ASD work experience program for Year 10-12 students.

Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Frances Adamson, said the work of women is essential for successful outcomes in a broad range of security fields -- crisis management, international legal practice, intelligence analysis, peacekeeping and diplomacy. Visible role models also matter, she said, as 'you can't be what you can't see

Responding to the global hack

In December, the global cyber security compromise of managed service providers (MSPs) was confirmed by the Australian Government.

'This is a catalytic event for Australia and an opportunity for all parts of our economy to lift the levels of cyber protection for all Australians, to make Australia the safest place to live, work and play online,' Mr MacGibbon said.

'What we've exposed is an audacious global campaign to steal commercial secrets. Businesses need to understand the inherent risks in cyber-enabled technology and to have the appropriate strategies in place to manage those risks,' he said.

The ACSC's immediate focus is on providing support and advice to affected MSPs and their customers. The Centre has developed guidance for MSPs and customers of MSPs to help safeguard their networks. The Centre is also working with Australian MSPs on a new partner program designed to strengthen their security.

Rolling out in 2019, MSP3 is a 12-month industry program of engagement and continuous improvement activities that will support Australian MSPs and their customers to better understand and mitigate the risks to systems and supply chains.

Gone phishing

And a look back at the year wouldn't be complete without a mention of the numerous malicious emails and SMS that we all receive on a regular basis. We urge you not to become complacent.

Do not click on any links that you receive via unsolicited text messages or emails, particularly where personal information is requested. If you need to contact or conduct business with, for example, the Australian Tax Office (ATO), Medicare or Australia Post, you should contact them directly or access your account via their secure apps or websites.

Cyber criminals often take advantage of natural disasters such as bushfires and floods, or events such as the British Airways, Marriott or Cathay Pacific data security incidents, to trick people into sharing personal or financial information. Protect your digital identity.

Remember, trustworthy organisations won't ask you for your password or to provide any personal or financial information by email or SMS.

To ask a question, provide feedback, or to report a cyber security incident, please email asd.assist@defence.gov.au or call 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371).

MSPs operating in Australia will be invited to join the first round of MSP3 in January 2019. Applications for the first round will close in April 2019.

For more information about cyber security careers visit

Date
July 1st, 2018