ACT Government sets up hub to counter cybersecurity threat


The Australian Capital Territory Government is moving to set up Canberra as a national cybersecurity hub. The ACT Government is spending $700,000 on the Canberra Cyber Hub. It hopes to attract and retain cybersecurity research and business in the region.

With the Commonwealth Government and its various agencies based in Canberra, several top tier research institutions nearby, and a skilled local workforce to draw on, the ACT Government believes the Canberra Cyber Hub can differentiate itself from competitors in other cities.

“Canberra is well-placed to be a leader in cybersecurity,” said Tara Cheyne, Assistant Minister for Economic Development. “The Canberra Cyber Hub will harness Canberra’s unique cyber capabilities to create more jobs and further diversify the ACT economy.”

The $700,000 will go towards boosting small and medium local businesses working in the cybersecurity field, developing an educational portal, and publicising Canberra’s cybersecurity capabilities.

The Project Lead for the Canberra Cyber Hub is Dr Michael Frater. Dr Frater is an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Dr Frater holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Engineering. The part-time Australian Army Captain is a specialist in communications systems and services, including videoconferencing and video and image surveillance.

Dr Frater is also a Director at Canberra’s Innovation Network, a not-for-profit enterprise that promotes local start-ups and SMEs. Along with nearby agencies like the Australian Cyber Security Centre and research institutions such as the Australian National University, the Canberra Cyber Hub is in good company.

“Our proximity to government puts us in a competitive position to be able to capitalise on this investment through better collaboration and capacity-building,” Dr Frater said.

Last year, the Australian Government implemented a 10-year cybersecurity strategy that acknowledged the role of state, territory, local governments, businesses, and academia in mitigating cybersecurity risks.

As a result, Dr Frater says the Commonwealth Government will spend $1.67 billion on cybersecurity over the next 10 years, with the Canberra Cyber Hub potentially benefitting. It may be money well spent.

“More abundant and better-resourced cyber-criminals and cyber-activists and increasingly sophisticated and emboldened state actors mean Australia is quite literally under constant cyber-attack,” says Andrew Penn, Chair of the Commonwealth Government’s Industry Advisory Committee on cybersecurity.

In total, Australia will spend $7.6 billion on cybersecurity by 2024, up 35% on current levels. Dr Frater and the ACT Government believe the Canberra Cyber Hub can be a significant stakeholder in this fast-growing sector.