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Building the Australian Defence Force’s cyber capability

Defence is investing in the future of its cyber capability by recruiting the best candidates today to lead the fight tomorrow.

The cyber threats faced by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are not dissimilar to the threats faced by business and industry. We are protecting networks and missions systems. In an increasingly connected world, that extends to equipment used in training and on operations, as well as personal cybersecurity.

The ADF’s entire inventory of aircraft, ships and combat vehicles will soon be digital and therefore extensions of the network. The digital hygiene of those systems is critical.

The ADF is investing in building and training a diverse and agile cyber workforce. In 2019–20 an ADF first was achieved when the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal aligned remuneration across the cyber trades in Navy, Army and Air Force. We also adopted a policy that permits, on a case-by-case basis, consideration of waivers to traditional ADF entry standards to help attract the best and brightest cyber operators.

Recognising the need to unearth new talent, Defence launched the Cyber Gap Year Program in 2020, with up to 50 students offered financial support, mentoring and work experience with Defence while they study for an impressive cyber qualification. While the participants are
not obligated to join Defence at the end of the program, they will be exposed to the extensive employment opportunities available in the Defence cyber domain. The nation will benefit in other ways from the skills and expertise of those who choose not to join.

The Cyber Gap Year program was initially established to support 400 students but will open more widely in 2021. It is expected that up to 800 students will graduate over the next four years.

These steps are important but they are not taken in isolation. Working closely with the Australian Signals Directorate, Five Eyes partners, Defence industry, businesses and academic institutions is vital to understanding the current and emerging information warfare threats the ADF faces. In today’s digital world where connectivity extends to the battlefield, that has never been more important.