Australia drops to seventh on United Nations cyber security index

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Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann says Australia is falling behind on an international ranking of cyber security, despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussing global co-operation with British Prime Minister Theresa May this week.

Ms Brodtmann, Labor’s spokeswoman on cyber security and defence, said Australia had slumped from fourth to seventh position on the latest United Nations International Telecommunication Union’s global cyber security index.

Labor's Gai Brodtmann claims the slide is a direct result of the government's failure to effectively implement its own ... Labor’s Gai Brodtmann claims the slide is a direct result of the government’s failure to effectively implement its own cyber security strategy. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Released this week, the index gave Australia a score of 0.44 in international co-operation, putting the nation behind countries including Oman and Malaysia.

Singapore and the United States topped the latest rankings, with Australia placed ahead of countries including France and Canada.

Mr Turnbull used his visit to London to study counter-terrorism approaches. Mr Turnbull used his visit to London to study counter-terrorism approaches. Photo: Lukas Coch

Ms Brodtmann said the co-operation score put Australia well behind the best performing countries in the Asia Pacific region, with Singapore and Malaysia achieving a score of 0.87.

“The slide is a direct result of the Turnbull government’s failure to effectively implement its own cyber security strategy and engage with international partners,” she said on Tuesday.

“This is not helped by the absence of any meaningful deadlines or outcomes to measure whether the strategy is being achieved.

“Despite making a commitment to work [with international partners] to champion a secure, open and free internet, the Prime Minister dragged his feet on the appointment of a cyber ambassador, taking six months after the release of his cyber security strategy.”

Ms Brodtmann said recent cyber-attacks against government departments and the private sector here and overseas made the issue more important than ever.

“The Turnbull government needs to get its act together on international cyber security engagement, so Australia doesn’t further slide down the co-operation scale.”

Submissions as part of the government’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy consultation closed at the end of March.

Speaking alongside Mrs May at 10 Downing Street in London this week, Mr Turnbull said Australia was cooperating closely with the UK’s national cyber security centre to crack down on malicious cyber activity.

“Our law enforcement agencies work together to tackle serious and organised crime – particularly the illegal financial flows that fund criminal gangs and terrorists,” he said.

“We cannot allow the internet to be used a means to create dark places where terrorists cannot be found.”

The report said in 2016, nearly one per cent of all emails sent around the world were essentially malicious attacks, the highest rate in recent years.

It found ransomware attacks were increasingly affecting businesses and consumers, with indiscriminate campaigns sending massive volumes of malicious emails to accounts around the world.

The average ransom demand rose to more than $US1000 in 2016, up from approximately $US300 a year earlier, while the May 2017 WannaCry cyber attack caused major disruptions to companies and hospitals in more than 150 countries.