Cyber Security and Critical Technologies Program

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Rapid technological change is underway across Australia, our region and the world.

The mastery of critical technologies is now directly linked to strategic advantage, government-industry collaboration, and rapid capability growth, with operational risks and organisational resilience increasingly driven by — or susceptible to — cyber challenges.

The National Security College (NSC) provides cutting-edge education, policy engagement and thought leadership through its Cyber and Critical Technologies Program. This supports a multidisciplinary approach through research collaboration, dialogue and partnerships across government, academia and industry. We draw on expertise from across the Australian National University (ANU) and our wider networks. The program also supports NSC as a trusted platform to engage with some of Australia’s key partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Cyber Bootcamp Project

A collaboration between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Cyber Cooperation Program and the NSC’s Cyber and Critical Technologies Program, the Cyber Bootcamp Project combines international best practice with first-hand expertise from Australia’s cyber policy and operational specialists. The Project provides practical expert advice and training to government officials from Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It aims to build participants’ knowledge and awareness across the full breath of cyber issues — from technology and threats to decision-making and the nature of cyber and beyond. The Program aims to:

  • strengthen understanding of strategies for coordinating national cyber policy;
  • strengthen understanding of cyber terminology, internet architecture, and security policies;
  • increase awareness of cyber threats and challenges faced in both Australia and within our region;
  • promote the application of international stability framework for cyber security;
  • promote collaborative relationships between government, academia, civil society, and the private sector to address joint cyber challenges; and,
  • identify incident response roles and responsibilities.

Each Cyber Bootcamp includes a two-week intensive program in Australia, where participants engage in interactive workshops, scenarios, industry site visits, and dialogues with Australian government agencies. Participants also implement a project which responds to a cyber challenge or opportunity relevant to their domestic roles that will contribute to shared goals of a cyber-resilient Indo-Pacific. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions, the NSC will be delivering a digital program for select countries in 2020/21.

Initial programs are being delivered with Indonesia and Vietnam. More information can be found here.

Academic Studies

The Cyber and Critical Technologies Program also connects with cyber, technology and policy-related courses in the redesigned Master of National Security Policy degree.

Thought Leadership

Through the National Security College Futures Council, the Cyber and Critical Technologies Program has access to a high-calibre group of academics, former officials, opinion leaders and thinkers with expertise in the cyber and critical technologies field including;

  • Alastair MacGibbon — Chief Strategy Officer, Cyber CX. He was recently National Cyber Security Adviser, Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security.
  • Gai Brodtmann — member of the ASPI council and Sapien Cyber advisory board. She served as the federal Member for Canberra (2010-19) and as the Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence.
  • Helen Toner — Director of Strategy at Georgetown’s Centre for Security and Emerging Technology. She formerly worked at the Open Philanthropy Project and with Oxford University’s Centre for the Governance of AI.
  • Nicholas Rasmussen — Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. He held senior counterterrorism posts in the White House and U.S. intelligence community from 2001-17, including as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
  • Audrey Kurth Cronin — founding Director of the Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology at American University and author of Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists.

Dialogue and Trusted International Engagement

In addition to the Cyber Bootcamp Project, the Cyber and Critical Technologies Program supports the NSC’s growing set of international track 1.5 and track 2 dialogues. These are developed in consultation with DFAT to share analytical perspectives and policy ideas with a range of Australia’s key overseas partners on the nexus of technology and geopolitics in an era of disruption.

A Cross-Cutting Capability for NSC and ANU

The Cyber and Critical Technologies Program coordinates delivery of relevant content to the College’s executive and professional development programs, as well as scenario and analysis activities conducted for government and other clients by the NSC Futures Hub. Our inclusive engagement connects policymakers with experts from many related disciplines across ANU.

A Track Record to Build On

The National Security College has been a trusted convener for government, industry, academia and civil society on cyber security and technology matters since 2015, when we convened external consultations for the Australian Government’s first Cyber Security Strategy. Our other noted contributions on these issues have included:

  • The major Cyber 360 Game held in partnership with the RAND Corporation, Australia’s first comprehensive exercise to test future cyber security scenarios;
  • Coordinating Australia’s first cyber security dialogue with Israel, including leading a combined academic-industry delegation in support of a Prime Ministerial visit;
  • Publication of industry-sponsored research to assess cyber security practices in small and medium enterprises and government agencies, identified by Minister Dan Tehan as a direct impetus for change;
  • Commissioned analysis for the Australian Department of Defence examining plausible scenarios for cyber risk; and,
  • Regular public commentary, including on our own National Security Podcast, the go-to podcast for security analysis in Australia and the Indo-Pacific.
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‘The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and The Australian National University’

Updated:  26 February 2024/Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/Page Contact:  Web administrator