Microsoft commits $5bn for cyber defence in Australia

Microsoft will make an additional $5 billion investment in Australia to help increase cyber defence and strengthen the country’s resilience against global online threats.

Under the terms of the deal, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Microsoft will collaborate to improve joint capability to “identify, prevent and respond to cyber threats”, through what it has dubbed ‘Cyber Shield’.

The creation of the Microsoft-ASD Cyber Shield will be one of the first steps taken as part of the 2023-2030 Cyber-Security Strategy, intended to ensure Australia becomes “a world-leading, cyber-secure and resilient nation by 2030”.

Microsoft’s two-year investment will also enable the expansion of its locally based hyperscale cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure. This will grow its local data centre footprint by nearly 50 per cent, from 20 to 29 sites in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

The investment will position Australia as a global leader in cloud computing, with demand for cloud services expected to almost double by 2026, the firm said.

Additionally, Microsoft has committed to upskilling an additional 300,000 Australians through its global skills program, ensuring, it said, locals gain the skills and capabilities to thrive in the digital economy.

A new Microsoft Data Centre Academy will open in 2024 in New South Wales in partnership with TAFE NSW, focusing on building applied data centre skills.

“This is a major investment in the skills and workers of the future, which will help Australia to strengthen our position as a world-leading economy,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“A priority for my Government is to ensure all Australians benefit from economic growth. This means that we need to provide the skills to enable Australians to succeed in the jobs of the future.

“A strong economy requires protection from cyber threats. I welcome Microsoft’s collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate to enhance cybersecurity for households and business.”

The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of this announcement for cementing Australia’s trade ties with the United States.

“The United States is Australia’s most important two-way trade partner. And Australian investment in the United States has grown substantially in recent time, but we continue to welcome this investment here,” he said.