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Australia increase Universities cyber security against foreign interference

The Australian University Foreign Interference Taskforce issues guidelines to universities to increase their cyber security and resilience

Australian universities can be better protect against cybercrime and state-sponsored cyber attacks, thanks to new guidelines released on 14 Novembre. The rules has been developed by the University Foreign Interference Taskforce, set up in August after organizations asked government security agencies for help increase their cyber security from foreign interference. The task force includes representatives from universities, national security agencies and the education department. Furthermore, according the document, in october 2019, Australia’s director-general of security, mike Burgess, noted the unprecedented scale of foreign interference activity against national interests. In some cases, foreign actors are pursuing opportunities to interfere with decision makers across a range of sectors in society – including the university and research sectors. In late 2018 and early 2019, the Australian National University in Canberra experienced significant data breaches, in which hackers gained access to 19 years’ worth of personal data from the university’s network. 

The document is divided in general topics and in any sections there are questions to help decision-making

The cyber security guidelines are divided in five general topics: Governance and Risk Framework, Due Diligence, Communication and Education, Knowledge Sharing, and Cyber Security. Furthermore, there are case studies of possibile foreign interference and a scenario to learn how to manage dangerous situations. In every section there is also a list of questions to guide decision-making and facilitate the adoption of best practises against cyber attacks and cyber espionage attempts. This both in Australia and overseas, especially regarding joint projects between universities. In fact, according the document, organizations are advised to undertake due diligence before entering into research or other collaborations with international partners. Universities should also communicate with their staff about the nature and risk of foreign interference, and implement robust cybersecurity strategies. 

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