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New National Cyber Security Alliance a collaboration harnessing the capabilities and expertise of industry and universities

Posted December 5, 2023

Cisco, Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (Aus3C) and a number of Australian universities will anchor a new Cyber Security Alliance focused on improving Australia’s cyber resilience and capability.

The alliance is an initiative of the National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN) – a Cisco-led collective of university and industry partners formed three years ago to improve Australia’s innovation output and build the talent pipeline in critical areas. A number of universities that have already joined the Cyber Alliance have reported significant growth in enrolments in their own cyber programs.

The NIIN is anchored by nine universities as major partners and is changing the way universities and industry collaborate for the benefit of the nation. The network aims to make Australia – and Australian industry – more adaptive and resilient. Cisco also announced the addition of:

  • A new NIIN partner – the University of Queensland – with a focus on cyber security, energy and digital transformation
  • Appointment of a new Research Chair in Critical Infrastructure at the University of Canberra

“Australia faces immense security and economic challenges, and no single company or university has all the solutions or the scale to move at the pace required. In combining the technology, expertise and networks, the NIIN Cyber Alliance can create a greater impact together,” Cisco ANZ VP Ben Dawson.

“Cyber security represents both a threat and opportunity. The threats are well-documented including loss of business continuity, productivity losses and erosion of confidence from major breaches.

But the opportunities are also immense. A major study of technical professionals and educators identified cyber security as the most significant technical skill shortage globally, with Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson suggesting a projected shortfall of 30,000 cyber professionals in coming years.

Commercialisation of cyber research is a major export opportunity for Australian industry and universities.

“The launch of the NIIN Cyber Security Alliance is timed to coincide with recent announcement of the Federal Government’s 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy.

“A discussion paper released as part of development of the new strategy highlighted the importance of collaboration to meet cyber skills and research challenges.”

The NIIN Cyber Security Alliance will be operated by Aus3C which is headquartered in Adelaide and has 120 members nationwide as well as international partnerships in the US, Europe and Asia.

“The NIIN Cyber Security Alliance is designed to be collaborative but also agile and responsive. Traditional research vehicles like CRCs have their place but aren’t responsive enough to keep pace with a domain moving as fast as cyber security. This new Alliance aligns with our DNA, tackling nationally significant issues at scale through collaboration, bringing the best research and academic cyber security programs in the nation together in this Alliance will be game changing for Australia’s capability to lift its cyber resilience” Matt Salier, CEO Aus3C.

The University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Deborah Terry AO said “Joining the NIIN Cyber Alliance enables UQ to harmonise the Alliance’s leading Cisco technology and industry-led research with UQ’s leading interdisciplinary cybersecurity research, thereby accelerating our commercialisation pipelines and the realisation of UQ Cyber’s vision to be one of the top cybersecurity centres in the Asia Pacific.”

“UQ has collaborated with many of the NIIN partners. Joining the NIIN Cyber Alliance will allow UQ to scale its interdisciplinary research to a national and global scale, and provide access to cutting-edge Cisco infrastructure which complements UQ’s leading facilities in energy critical infrastructure and cybersecurity. This directly addresses the Australian Cyber Security Strategy’s “Safe Technology”, “World-class threat sharing and blocking”, and “Resilient region and global leadership” shields.”

The NIIN Cyber Security Alliance will be looking for opportunities to support the implementation of the Federal Government’s strategy and the recently announced National Cyber Intel Partnership but has already identified several initiatives it will be pursuing:

  • Delivery of agile cyber security capability building training leveraging the vast credentialled university offerings in the network
  • Development of an industry focused research capability for Aus3C’s Australian Insider Risk Centre of Excellence (Link)
  • Connecting a national network of Cyber Range facilities (based on Cisco technology) to support cyber war-gaming and cutting-edge simulations for students, industry and government
  • Provide Early Visibility into Cyber Security Risks and Opportunities: The value of early insight into industry cyber security priorities, such as those set by leaders like Cisco, is the ability to anticipate and prepare for emerging cyber practice and technologies.

Cyber security represents one of Australia’s greatest economic challenges given:

  • Over 94,000 cybercrime reports were made in 2022-23, an annual increase of 23 per cent.
  • This equates to a report every six minutes.
  • A quarter of all cyber incidents reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (2020-21
  • reporting period) were associated with Australia’s critical infrastructure or essential services3.
  • Disruption to a single port could cost as much as $100M per day and a national disruption could displace up to 163,000 jobs and cost $30B over four weeks.

An expressions of interest document (link here) has been distributed to universities and provides additional detail on the rationale for the alliance, how it works and potential focus areas.

For further information about the NIIN Cyber Security Alliance, please contact Matt Salier, CEO, Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre on 08 8155 5320 or via email [email protected]

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