Standing up for Canberra

Who's Who in Cyber Security?

Last night in Senate Estimates the Minister for Defence showed she is just as confused as the rest of Australia about who manages what in the mess that is cyber security management under the Turnbull Government.

When asked why the Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Alastair MacGibbon, wasn’t in the room to answer questions on cyber security, the Minister said:

“I believe he’s with Home Affairs.”

When asked to clarify, the Minister said:

“I believe he attended Home Affairs Estimates.”

When her claim was queried again, the Minister then said:

“This is a new arrangement… I’m very happy to discuss with my colleagues where it is most appropriate that Mr MacGibbon attend and we’ll go from there.”

While it would be assumed the Minister would know which agencies are in her department, she can be forgiven for being entangled in the spaghetti junction that is the Turnbull Government’s cyber security architecture.

Because cyber security is managed by the:

  • Department of Defence, and
  • Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and
  • Attorney-General’s Department, and
  • Department of Home Affairs, and
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority.

And poor Mr MacGibbon straddles at least three of these agencies – as Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Deputy Secretary National Cyber Coordinator and the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security.

As a first step, the Minister should do a quick search of her own department’s website that says the Australian Cyber Security Centre “is the joint responsibility of the Attorney-General and Minister for Defence.”

We think.