Australians have the cyber security skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital age.

The foundations of a cyber smart nation have been established, and outcomes are starting to show. We’re building capacity in the tertiary sector with primary and secondary to follow. The conversation about diversity has been initiated, and now it’s time for action. More work is required to increase the cyber security awareness message – government and business must unite and amplify.

“We have the talent, the capability, the universities. We have amazing work going on in the country to create a globally competitive cyber security industry.”

Adrian Turner, Chief Executive Officer, Data61

Delivering the Strategy

  • Government has partnered with industry and academia to build research and workforce capability in cyber security by establishing Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence, with the successful institutions to be announced in 2017.
  • Government is promoting pathways into cyber security careers by increasing the focus on science, technology, engineering and maths in our schools and universities.
  • Starting the work to understand and address the causes of low participation by women in cyber security, government hosted a Women in Cyber event in March 2017 to engage women, industry and industry associations. The Office of the Cyber Security Special Adviser also launched a ‘women in cyber’ mentoring initiative in 2016.
  • The flagship Stay Smart Online Week 2016 and other key events, including Safer Internet Day and World Backup Day, provided direct and digestible advice and raised cyber security awareness across Australia. Through Stay Smart Online Week in October 2016, it is conservatively estimated that government reached over 400,000 individuals and organisations - and many more through more than 1400 partners spreading the message through their own channels. Stay Smart Online Week also saw the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security release an updated guide for small business and a new guide for individuals on how to be cyber secure.
  • The Cyber Security Challenge has attracted a record number of participants and will be held in May 2017
Cyber Smart Nation
A Cyber Smart nation

Building on the Strategy

Partnerships are springing up between government, industry, universities and TAFEs resulting in new vocational programs and cyber security degrees, doubling and trebling enrollments into existing cyber security degrees. Universities and TAFEs are adapting their curriculums in response to the Cyber Security Challenge and the job-ready employment needs of the Challenge’s industry partners, Telstra, CISCO, Microsoft, Facebook, Commonwealth Bank, PWC, Splunk, BAE Systems and HackLabs.

Data61 and the Australian Institute of Company Directors have collaborated to lift the digital and cyber literacy of directors and boards across Australia. This initiative aims to create stronger and more secure organisations by facilitating a better understanding of cyber security by boards, appropriate risk management, the required investment and the opportunities for innovation that come with it. This collaboration aims to enhance the creation of highly-skilled company directors equipped to influence economic growth and community prosperity, while protecting enterprise assets from intentional theft or accidental loss. The collaboration is already achieving great success – Data61’s cyber security webinar was the most watched in the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ history.

The highly successful Australian Cyber Security Conference – hosted by the Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra in March 2017 – continues to go from strength to strength, with increased speakers, participants and sponsors.

In the past twelve months, a number of industry associations, such as the Australian Information Security Association and the Australian Computer Society, have examined the cyber security skills problems and developed industry strategies to complement government initiatives. For example the Australian Computer Society is developing a certification framework for cyber security professionals.

The Stay Smart Online Alert Service continues to provide practical information to over 40,000 subscribers as well as providing general and targeted advice via its Facebook page with over 18,000 followers. Partnerships with industry build content and amplify messages through newsletters and websites. Government and industry are also driving cyber security messaging through the Security, Influence and Trust Group which brings together security awareness professionals from the Australasian region and includes representatives from major banks, retailers and telecommunications providers.



The National Science and Technology centre has been applying its unique approach to engaging audience in computer science, encryption and the development of 21st century skills in young people. Questacon’s initiatives include Nkrypt, a science sculpture containing eight encrypted messages. Some have already been solved by a world-wide team of crackers while others remain a secret, development of teacher and student resources that introduce the ideas of codes, ciphers and cryptography, and the Bytewise travelling exhibition featuring 21 exhibits covering computer science, computational thinking, problem solving and cryptography. These will be critical capabilities in our future cyber security workforce.

Next Steps

While the higher education sector is an important and continuing focus, it is now time to connect and build on initiatives in our schools and TAFEs, including those initiated by industry and academia, such as the Victorian ‘Cyber Games Initiative’ and the girls coding network. Initial research will map the existing landscape of activity, to identify gaps, and opportunities for strengthening the student pipeline and skill base to support a world leading Australian cyber security work force. Opportunities will also be sought to collaborate on skills initiatives with international partners, such as New Zealand.

Arising from the Government’s eCensus Review, a “Cyber Boot Camp” will be developed for Ministers and senior public sector managers, and a Cyber Lexicon will be created to build clarity around cyber security concepts. The Government, through the Office of the Cyber Security Special Adviser is also developing a ‘Cyber Alumni’ concept, to maximise the skills and networks of Australia’s professional cyber security community.

The Government will align and, where appropriate, consolidate cyber security outreach programs across agencies. Research will ensure that education and awareness material is targeted to the most at-risk audiences and effectively influences the way people perceive, and act on, online risks. And a new Stay Smart

Online website will be launched soon to improve the quality and discoverability of information for Australians.

The Cyber Security Challenge will run in May 2017 and includes assessment of more than just technical skills. Next year, the application process and competition will be redesigned to incorporate broader business skills to encourage technical and business collaboration.

“It’s time to rise to the challenge and opportunity that cyber security presents. We can do this – as a nation.”

Dr Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s Chief Scientist