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Marcus Thompson

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  1. Cyber has blurred the traditional, very clear, boundaries between peace and war. The area between is often referred to as the ‘grey zone’. While the tactics used in the cyber domain have been used for centuries (think military deception, psychological operations, and information operations), the scale and speed of the conduct of these activities in cyberspace is unparalleled. We are in a constant state of competition, and cyber threats are increasing in frequency and sophistication.
  2. Sometimes it’s obvious – such as through ransomware messages, fake anti-virus messages, or phishing malware. But often, it’s not so clear, difficult to detect and goes unnoticed for a long time. The Australian Cyber Security Centre has published some handy information about hacking which you can find here: https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/threats/hacking. My suggestion would be to make sure you’re doing the basics well, and focus on increasing security to reduce the likelihood of a cyber breach.
  3. Information Warfare Division has a diverse workforce which includes ADF, APS and contractors. Like any government department, we advertise externally for positions we have available, so keep an eye out in the Public Service gazette. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a career in the ADF, visit defencejobs.gov.au.
  4. As I’ve said before, I’m open to all good ideas! Last year, we took part in a capture-the-flag competition with a cyber incident response team from National Australia Bank. I’d be very keen to see similar activities in the future.
  5. I’m referring to the humanities professions, such as Analysts, Lawyers, Anthropologists, and Psychologists etc. These professionals all have a role to play as the ‘Arts’ in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths. We need to integrate the technical and humanities elements to solve complex problems in the cyber domain.
  6. Covert activity is not an ADF mission. However, all engineering disciplines must be engaged in this cross-disciplinary challenge.
  7. Absolutely. The Government has been crystal clear with Defence that we must engage closely with Australian industry. We will achieve national resilience in cyber space only if Government, industry, academia and individuals work together to develop collective resilience.
  8. I’m open to any and all good ideas here! If there are options for re-deploying the skills of experienced retiring engineers, we should consider it.
  9. It’s a good start! There’s no single ‘fix-all’ when it comes to cyber security. Check out the ASD Essential 8. Make sure you’re regularly patching your applications to repair any security flaws, and update your software when prompted.
  10. I’ll agree on the prestige aspect, as it’s hard to compete with our mission! But I’d argue it’s the opposite. Defence has difficulty retaining cyber operators who are lured by more attractive salaries in the private sector. While it pains me to see good people leave Defence, I’m realistic about the benefits to the nation when people seek experience elsewhere. Former members of the ADF bring skills and a work ethic that makes them extremely valuable outside the military. The good news is that many choose to remain active Reservists, which means we all benefit.
  11. We co-operate regularly and routinely with our Five Eyes partners and like-minded nations on current and emerging threats in the cyber domain, training initiatives, exercises, policy issues and academic thinking. Co-operation is key in the current threat environment.
  12. First, make sure you’re complying with the “ASD Essential 8”. Visit www.cyber.gov.au for more information. Subscribe to updates for the Australian Cyber Security Centre, and stay informed. Resilience is what we rely on when security fails. Everyone needs to be thinking constantly about how they can operate if their cyber security has been breached. How quickly can you recover? This conversation needs to happen at every level within every organisation from Board-level down to the most junior level. It’s no secret that cyber attackers are casting a wide net across Australia, and this has been well documented. AustCyber recently reported that a sustained digital disruption would cost the Australian economy over $1.2 billion (that’s approximately 1.5 percent of Australia’s GDP) and over 6000 jobs. If you want to improve business resilience, start thinking about the cost to your bottom line!
  13. The ADF works very closely with ASD. In my view, any smart cyber-operator – wherever they work within the Defence portfolio – contributes to our national cyber capability. We have uniformed members working within ASD, who contribute to a shared a mission. There will be some very talented cyber operators who do not necessarily fit well within the military, but are well-suited to a role with ASD. In the end, we all benefit!
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