The federal opposition is continuing its internet policy rollout, this time promising one year’s free NBN access to up to 30,000 families with no broadband at home if it wins the next election.
A day after committing to upgrade up to 1.5m premises to the faster fibre to the premise NBN connection, Labor has promised free internet for one year for eligible families with school-aged children.
The policy came about after the difficulties many families faced during the pandemic, when homeschooling became the norm.
As Stephanie Convery reported previously, in some cases, community services such as libraries had to step in to fill the gap for families struggling without internet access during lockdown.
The Labor policy is part of a policy plan highlighting, and then filling, government gaps exposed during the pandemic.
Families in need would be identified through schools, education departments and through local community organisations.
An intelligence agency chief says malicious cyber activities “pose a significant risk to Australia’s national security and to international stability”.
In a speech in Canberra today, Rachel Noble, the head of the Australian Signals Directorate, will say her agency is launching offensive cyber operations to “strike back against offshore cybercriminals conducting malicious activities”. She will say the agency is “fighting that battle with criminals – state actors and serious and organised crime”.
ASD has previously disclosed that a quarter of cyber incidents reported to it last financial year targeted critical infrastructure and essential services, including healthcare, energy, water and telcos.
In her speech this morning, Noble will expand on the alleged perpetrators:
Some were state actors undertaking intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and pre-positioning malicious software most likely with a view to activate it at a time of their choosing to deny, degrade or disrupt critical services to Australians.
They are also capable of moving laterally between networks – getting in to the weakest and moving up into the strongest by using trusted network pathways to get there. Our goal is to defend our networks by pushing them off before harm is done and to undertake offensive cyber operations to deny them the benefits of their crime.
In other remarks, Noble will also argue against any move to split ASD (there has been talk moving cyber security into a standalone agency, separate from ASD’s key role of gathering “signals intelligence”):
The idea that we could draw a line somehow between these functions would take away the very cutting edge that Australia has, and needs, over our adversaries.
She will offer a gloomy assessment of the current global tensions, without naming any particular country:
We are living in one of the most strategically uncertain times of my generation and perhaps even the generation before me. We are at the crossroads, some are opining, of a potential major global power shift.
She will also say it’s the job of ASD and other intelligence agencies to “enable our government and allied governments to have the best possible understanding of foreign adversaries’ intent in order to help the government make the best decisions for our national interest and avoid misunderstandings or miscalculations”:
It is also a vitally important role of intelligence agencies, if the worst does happen, that we can ensure not only the best possible force protection and overwatch of our military and that of our allies, but that we are also able to generate capabilities through intelligence collection and more recently offensive cyber effects that will greatly shorten any conflict – like we always have.