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Australia’s cyber warfare capabilities slammed

NEWS: NZ Security, February 2016

Prof Greg Austin slams Australia's cyber war preparednessProf Greg Austin slams Australia's cyber war preparednessA new report by Professor Greg Austin, Australia Rearmed: Future Capabilities for Cyber-enabled Warfare, was released on 19 January by the Australian Centre for Cyber Security (ACCS) at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)

In his report, Austin claims that Australia’s response to the emerging key importance of cyber space in the conduct of future war has been slow and fragmented. His report highlights a number of international benchmarks that could “provide guideposts for a rapid catch-up in Australian capabilities for military security in the information age (for cyber-enabled war).”

The report maps trends in the policy settings of China and the United States, which both regard military dominance in cyber space as one of the primary factors in winning conflicts. “The Australian government has not been prepared to canvas in public the centrality of cyber-enabled warfare nor craft policies and doctrines accordingly”, argues Austin.

Austin observes that the US and China are quickly developing their cyber arsenals and pursuing conditions in cyber space that in wartime could undermine the effectiveness of an enemy as quickly as possible. “The two major powers are placing considerable attention on disabling enemy cyber systems in the early stages of hostilities, or even on a pre-emptive basis.”

According to the report’s abstract, “Australia will need to develop complex responsive systems of decision-making for medium intensity war that address multi-vector, multi-front and multi-theatre attacks in cyber space, including against civilian infrastructure and civilians involved in the war effort.

This means maintaining capabilities for cyber warfare at the strategic level that are unified in both policy and doctrinal terms “in a way that lays a clear pathway for mobilization of the country in very short time to fight a medium intensity, cyber-enabled hot war.”

The report recommends that Australia build “a much more visible community of interest around the concept of cyber-enabled warfare with a recognised authoritative hub (a cyber warfare studies centre) that can unite political, military, diplomatic, business, scientific and technical interests and expertise.”

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