Strengthening cyber security across the Pacific

As the digital economy expands across the Pacific, cyber criminals are extending their reach into the lives of our neighbours.

Amid this more complex cyber ecosystem, a broader concept of security that includes cyber security has been affirmed by the Forty-Ninth Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

‘Tackling cybercrime needs the close involvement of governments and businesses, and we’re working hard to strengthen cyber security together,’ said Alastair MacGibbon, Head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). ‘It’s important that there aren’t any safe havens.’

Sharing skills and information

The ACSC is a member of Pacific Cyber Security Operational Network (PaCSON), which is proving to be a vital vehicle for closer sharing of cyber security threat information, tools, techniques and ideas between nations.

‘With the rapid increase of internet connectivity across the Pacific, collaboration is becoming even more important,’ said Mr MacGibbon. ‘PaCSON works closely with organisations in our region that share the objective of an open, free and secure internet.’

PaCSON’s membership comprises: Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

An outcome of Australia’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy, and funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Cyber Cooperation Program, PaCSON was established in May 2018 and its focus includes:

  • acting as a point of contact network should a cyber security incident affect the region
  • empowering members to share cyber security threat information
  • providing opportunities for technical experts to share tools, techniques and ideas
  • being an enabler of cooperation and collaboration, and
  • support from other like-minded partners, including not-for-profits and academia.

A PaCSON Executive Committee has been elected to guide the goals and objectives of the network, with New Zealand elected Chair, Tonga elected Deputy Chair, and Samoa elected Incoming Chair. The ACSC supports PaCSON by providing a secretariat function as well as operational and technical guidance.

Maximising protections and opportunities

Leaders agreed at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru that including cyber security under the new Regional Security Declaration would ‘maximise protections and opportunities for Pacific infrastructure and peoples in the digital age’. An action plan for implementation of the declaration, to be known as the Boe Declaration, is due to be developed by November 2018.

You can read the full declaration, which was issued as Annex 1 to the Forty-Ninth Pacific Islands Forum: Communiqué.

For an overview of eight essential mitigation strategies for cyber security incidents you can read our Essential Eight Explained.

For further information, you can read the ACSC’s latest Threat Report.

To report a cyber threat, email [email protected] or call 1300 CYBER 1.