PM announces tougher police powers: ‘You should be worried’
Cyber criminals lurking in the "darkest corners" of the internet will be brought to justice and critical online infrastructure strengthened to fend off hackers.
The federal government has unveiled further details of its $1.67 billion 2020 Cyber Strategy including a $66 million boost to help telcos, banks, health, energy, water, transport and online shopping businesses identify and fix vulnerabilities to stop foreign actors hacking their networks.
A further $88 million will bolster the Australian Federal Police's capability to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes.
The 2020 strategy also includes the $1.35bn investment into the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response package to ensure that the Australian Signals Directorate can identify more cyber threats and disrupt foreign criminals, which was announced last month.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was important "now more than ever" to protect Australians online from those who "seek to do us harm".
"We want to enlist all Australians in the fight to create a more cyber safe Australia; you are our secret weapon in our cyber security strategy," he said.
"And we want to give you he tools to protect your family and your business."
Cyber threats have become a growing concern during the pandemic, with authorities disrupting dozens of coronavirusthemed email and SMS phishing campaigns designed to harvest information or install malicious software.
It is estimated that cyber incidents targeting Australian businesses cost the economy up to $29 billion a year.
When asked how much of this new strategy was about China's cyber threat to Australia, Mr Morrison said: "It's about Australia, it's about protecting Australia and Australians from wherever potential threats come and - in - and whatever form those threats make tight and those threats emerge in all sorts of circumstances and Minister Dutton I think has set out those very clearly."
He went on to add: "Some weeks ago when I outlined the defence capability plan indicated there were a range of threats there and state actors that we have to deal with and we'll continue to deal with.
"Wherever the threat comes from we have to be able to deal with it and there are state actors who are active in this space and we have to be able to come to terms and deal with that and are."
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters paedophiles, terrorists and tourists should be worried about these new powers given to the Australian Federal Police.
"If you're a … paedophile you should be worried about these powers, if you're a tourist you should be worried about these powers if you're committing serious offence in relation to trafficking of drugs, of ice, for example, that's being pedalled to children, you should be worried about these powers as well," he said.
"This is a power that enables the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to help stop paedophile networks online, for example, operating in the dark on encrypted devices, and that's the reality of the modern world.
" … the fact is at the moment we have seen a massive spike in the number of paedophiles online during the COVID-19 period. They are targeting kids because they know kids are at home.
"As a parent of teenage children, perhaps your girls are more well behaved online than mine … but while they're telling you that they're studying, if Fortnite is on in the background or TikTok, don't be surprised, and the reality is people are trying their best to groom kids online and terrorists are spot information, people are trading gun parts on the dark web and it cannot be a lawless space. This law applies to those people and those people only."
Originally published as PM's tougher police powers: 'You should be worried'