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Justin Hendry

Govt cyber hubs pilot gets $31.3m funding boost

The federal government’s cyber hubs pilot has been extended for a further six months, enabled by an additional $31.3 million in Budget funding that builds on the Coalition’s investment in March.

The Digital Transformation Agency will also use the funding to develop a Commonwealth incident response capability and to prepare a business case for the extension of the scheme beyond 2022-23.

The 2022-23 federal Budget, unveiled by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday night, brings funding for the pilot to $61.5 million in 2022-23 and follows calls for the hubs to be given “more teeth”.

Parliament house Canberra

The cyber hubs pilot, which was first outlined in the 2020 cybersecurity strategy, intends to “harden” government information technology by focusing investment on a smaller footprint of networks.

Four hubs have been established across the public sector – in Defence, Home Affairs, Services Australia and the Australian Taxation Office – since July 2021, ahead of a planned wider rollout.

The pilot was slated to end at the end of June 2022, but the $30.2 million provided in the March 2022 Budget extended the initiative until the end of December 2022.

New funding provided in the Budget extends the initiative yet again, this time until the end of June 2023, while an evaluation is completed.

Home Affairs will receive the bulk of the funding at $8.6 million, followed by Services Australia ($8 million), Defence ($7.1 million) and the ATO ($5.6 million).

The remainder ($1.9 million) will be used by the DTA to prepare a business case for a whole-of-government rollout, as well as a Commonwealth incident response capability, according to officials from the Department of Finance.

In a statement, Cyber Security minister Clare O’Neil said the uplift initiative is “providing cyber security services to agencies with fewer resources”.

The funding comes just months after the Industry Advisory Committee on Cyber Security called for the cyber hubs to be given “more teeth and their work needs to be accelerated”.

The government has also followed through with its election commitment to create a National Anti-Scam Centre within the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission.

The centre, which will receive $9.9 million over four years, is part of a package aimed at combating scams and online fraud.

A further $2 million has been provided to the Department of Home Affairs in 2022-23 to expand its arrangement with IDCare to assist scam victims to recover their identity.

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