GovTech Weekly News Wrap – 25 June

GovTechWeeklyNewsWrap

Major outage strikes NSW hospitals e-records system and ACSC releases emergency security guidelines in the wake of suspected state-sponsored cyberattack on Australia. Tracking the week that was in tech and digital innovation across Australia and New Zealand’s government sector.
 

In the wake of a coordinated, state-based cyberattack campaign targeting Australian organisations and public entities, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has released emergency cybersecurity guidelines for government agencies and businesses. The advisory details cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures based on the MITRE ATT&CK® 1 framework.

The ACSC has also announced a new “look and feel” for its website (a critical reporting platform for cybercrime and cyber incidents affecting Australian businesses and public agencies), offering, it says an “enhanced experience and functionality for users”. As part of the website refresh, the ACSC’s Stay Smart Online (SSO) program and website content will also be migrated onto a new domain (cyber.gov.au).

The NSW public hospital network suffered a major outage within its electronic medical records system on Tuesday. As a result, clinicians were forced to revert to paper and pen processes for several hours. An internal communique to NSW Health staff blamed a “major power outage” occurring at 4.15 am at the NSW Government Data Centre facility in Silverwater. The NSW Health website, health.nsw.gov.au, was also offline for most of Tuesday.

The WA Public Sector Commission has revealed it will migrate its services and information onto a single searchable site at WA.gov.au.

Defence ministers from the Five Eyes security cooperative (including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) met via videoconference on Tuesday, reaffirming their commitment to advancing defence and security cooperation.

The ALP has demanded a Royal Commission into the Coalition Government’s botched robodebt scheme. Generated robodebts totalling $721 million are expected to be repaid to Australians caught up in the flawed debt recovery scheme, which erroneously matched ATO and social security data in an effort to detect overpaid welfare cheques.

The Australian Taxation Office has revealed plans to match the data of more than three million people as part of its ‘Covid-19 Economic Response Support 2020’ program. The data-matching scheme is an effort to crack down on “inappropriate” access to the Government’s early access superannuation and JobKeeper schemes.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has announced a cross-sector cybersecurity taskforce between the NSW GovernmentAustCyber and Standards Australia. The group will be tasked with accelerating the adoption of common baseline and industry-specific cybersecurity standards for Australian businesses.

Strategic advisers have urged the Australian Government to implement an independent authority to oversee social media platforms and protect citizens from misinformation campaigns. Speaking at a Senate Inquiry into foreign interference in social media, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Jake Wallis and Thomas Uren said Covid-19 was being used to spark public fears, with foreign state actors actively spreading scams and conspiracy theories in an effort to gain geopolitical advantage.

Consulting and professional services firm Accenture has been appointed ‘Master Technologist’ for the forthcoming Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, due to opened in 2026. The role will support the design of technology architecture and infrastructure for Sydney’s second major airport, incorporating the internet of things (IoT), data management (analytics), cloud computing, and cybersecurity.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, alongside the WA Government, has announced a $19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund. Under the program, Fugro Australia Marine will receive $4.5 million to build the Australian Space Robotics, Automation, and AI Command Control Complex in Perth. $1.5 million will go towards the establishment of the Australian Space Data Analysis Facility in Perth.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), a peak tech innovation body, has urged the Government to look beyond traditional infrastructure in its post-Covid recovery efforts and drive more investment in technology infrastructure in an effort to build more resilience in the national economy.

Treasury’s Deregulation Taskforce will be brought under the direct control of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The taskforce, previously under Treasury, was created to revitalise Australia’s regulatory reform and deregulation agenda. Under the DPMC, the group will now more directly assist with Australia’s post-Covid economic recovery, supporting improved business communication and “occupational mobility”.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works will scrutinise the Department of Defence’s $290 million AIR 555 Phase 1 Airborne Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Electronic Warfare Capability Facilities Works. The Committee will conduct a public and in-camera hearing in early August 2020. Submissions for the project will be accepted until 28 July 2020.

Researchers from CSIRO’s Data61 have announced the development of a new technique to protect consumers from voice spoofing attacks.

The Queensland Department of Environment and Science is using drone technology to track the world’s largest green turtle rookery at Raine Island.

The NSW Government has launched an online ‘Strata Portal’ to share basic strata information with planning bodies, consumers, and construction firms. The pilot project pools information from strata schemes across the state.

Victoria’s Wyndham City Council, based in Melbourne’s south-west, has launched a “smart parks” project incorporating public Wi-Fi, smartphone charging stations, smart bins, smart barbecues, and equipment temperature sensors across its reserves and parks.

The NSW Education Standards Authority has secured a five-year contract with AC3 to manage its IT infrastructure. Valued at $16.2 million, the contract will see AC3 support ongoing operations, including its network, private cloud, and virtual desktop infrastructure.

Queensland State Archives is upgrading its online archive catalogueArchivesSearch, offering a new search and interface functionality.

South Australia’s Department of Education has announced the successful roll-out of high-speed internet “to nearly every school in the state“. The first stage of the $80 million SWiFT internet scheme has seen hundreds of kilometres of fibre optic cable laid, the government said, reaching around 500 school sites.

The NSW Government has earmarked $2 million to establish a university-led cybersecurity R&D research network to identify challenges, train specialists, and offer strategic and operational advice to industry on cyber threats. The NSW Cyber Security Network will draw together scientists and engineers from seven universities across the state.