Doorstop Interview Australian Cyber Security Centre, Canberra ACT

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The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

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15 June 2021

THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good morning. Well, it's great to be here at the Australian Cyber Security Centre. I'm joined with the head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Abi Bradshaw and we've had a very productive discussion this morning with Australian businesses about the government's cybersecurity strategy, and particularly how we're dealing with ransomware attacks in this country. You would have noted the Prime Minister over the weekend met with world leaders at the G7 to discuss this very problem. And he also met with intelligence chiefs in the UK to discuss ransomware. Ransomware attacks are transnational and so this isn’t something that's specific to Australia and we need to be working with other like minded democracies.

Our strategy is very simple. Through the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the ASD, we are defending Australian organisations and businesses from ransomware attacks. We have a very responsive ACSC right here, which is working 24/7 to provide assistance to Australian businesses. We are counter punching through the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Federal Police who are taking it to offshore criminals. We're going after their cyber infrastructure, we're disrupting their activities on the dark web. And we're keeping them off balance, which is a very critical part of our strategy. And finally, we're building Australia's digital sovereignty. It's really, really important that we uplift our cyber security across the country, getting mums and dads, small business owners, seniors, students at school, everyone uplifting through just some basic things - firstly, using complex passphrases, updating their security patches, or their software updates, using multi factor authentication and also backing up their data.

So we had a very useful discussion this morning. And I'm confident that as a country, we can tackle the scourge of ransomware. We're seeing an exponential increase in ransomware attacks, you would have seen the Colonial Pipeline attack in the US, the attack on JBS, this is a real problem, and this government is taking action. I'll now hand over to the head of the ACSC Abi Bradshaw for some opening remarks.

ABIGAIL BRADSHAW CSC, HEAD OF THE AUSTRALIAN CYBER SECURITY CENTRE: Thank you, Minister it was great to have a whole bunch of really great industry partners with us today as part of our Act Now Stay Secure comms campaign. As the Minister has said, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has three really important roles as we take it to cyber criminals who want to take advantage of Australians and Australian businesses. The first one is to create really great technical advisories out of our intelligence collection. The second is to generate effects, so pushing back cyber criminals with the assistance of our international and domestic law enforcement and intelligence partners, and importantly our protect function, and that's what today was about launching two really good practical guides for businesses to help them to help them to understand they can do it, you can lift your cyber offenses, because protection is always much better than cure, particularly when it comes to ransomware. Those guides are available on and we urge the urge all businesses, individuals, families, to get online, go to and download your guide today.

Thanks Minister.

HASTIE: Now I’ll open up to any questions.

JOURNALIST: How significant is the issue - or how significant are the number of attacks from the state based or state supported actors?

HASTIE: Well we're seeing attacks from across a broad spectrum of actors from individual hackers to sophisticated criminal syndicates, who may or may not be working on behalf of a state sponsor, and then, of course, state actors working with their own cyber or intelligence operations. Attribution is very difficult and so what we're focusing on is uplifting cybersecurity across Australia, from small to large businesses, to households, to government organisations, everyone needs to uplift because we can't think about cybersecurity in private terms anymore. We've actually got to think about digital sovereignty, and everyone is potentially a target if they're online. So we want to lift the standard of cyber security across this country. Everyone has a part to play, is the message.

JOURNALIST: We've seen a reasonably high profile attack against Channel Nine, Nine entertainment. Do you think that the way that businesses are running their cyber security at the moment is really up to scratch across the country?

HASTIE: Well, I think what we're seeing is businesses now appreciating the problem. And the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the Australian government is helping Australian businesses uplift Cyber Security. It's very simple stuff that people can do. But it's about providing the information through the Australian cyber security Centre and the joint cyber security centres across the country in our capital cities, really important work that we have to do with collaborating with business. So that's happening. It's online – for that information.

JOURNALIST: Just on a different topic, are you aware that Chinese state media has produced some features promoting Landbridge and its stewardship of the Port of Darwin?

HASTIE: I haven’t seen that.

JOURNALIST: Does that tactic surprise you at all hearing about that, though, does it affect a current review of its ownership?

HASTIE: I'm not surprised that authoritarian regimes use all sorts of information to get their messages out. I haven't seen the stuff you're referring to. But Russia, for instance, has been a topic of discussion at the G7 and particularly with regards to ransomware attacks - and again, like minded democracies at the G7 are talking about how we tackle these challenges, given that they are transnational.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any idea of when the government will make a decision on the Port of Darwin?

HASTIE: I beg your pardon?

JOURNALIST: Do you have any idea of when the Government will make its decision on the Port of Darwin?

HASTIE: That’s a decision for the Minister and he’ll make his decision public.

JOURNALIST: And are you confident that enough is being done to bring Afghan interpreters to safety before Coalition forces leave Afghanistan in September?

HASTIE: Again, that's a work in progress. I know a lot of Afghan interpreters have migrated to Australia since the cessation of combat operations back in 2013-2014. I know firsthand because one of the interpreters who patrolled with Australian soldiers in the Chora Valley works in my electorate in Canning. And he's working in a small business and I have formed a great friendship with him. So I know there are interpreters here. Of course, there are also interpreters who have worked with Australian forces over the last five years, that problem is being looked at. And again, decision on that matter will be communicated in due course.

JOURNALIST: Given your experience, are you worried about the safety of those interpreters?

HASTIE: Look, Afghanistan is a really tough place. As we've seen, there's a lot of attacks still going on. And yes, of course, I'm concerned about those people who've helped the Australian government do its work there. And again, decision are being considered and will be made in due course.

JOURNALIST: And given the government’s committed to doing life of type extensions on all six Collins Class submarines, does this mean your home state of WA has missed out on the full cycle docking work it was hoping to get?

HASTIE: Again, no decisions have been made, and you'll be informed in due course.

Thanks very much.

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