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Building robust cyber capabilities from the ground up

By Cia Kouparitsas 
Published: January 11, 2023
READ TIME: 3 minutes
Increasing connectivity in the Pacific region is a force for significant social and economic development and inclusion – however it also has the potential to expose the region to increased threats from malicious cyber actors. Papua New Guinea’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is an initiative that acknowledges the benefits of Australia and PNG working together to foster a strong and resilient cyber security environment. The program, delivered by the Australian Government and WithYouWithMe, is supporting PNG’s development of local digital skills, which ensures they have the expertise required to detect and address evolving cyber threats and respond to cyber incidents.

Engagement throughout the Indo-Pacific region is vital to Australia’s future security and prosperity. Australia’s whole of Government efforts, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), recognise the growing importance cyberspace and critical technologies play in achieving regional peace and prosperity. Australia’s investment in the cyber resilience of its neighbours reflects the important role reliable and trusted technologies play in uplifting the circumstances of individuals throughout the Indo-Pacific.

As part of Australia’s commitment to security in the Pacific, DFAT partnered with Australian tech company WithYouWithMe to assist the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government to establish a National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The NCSC, which is delivered as part of the Australia-PNG MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation and supported by the Cyber and Critical Technology Cooperation Program, is focussed on building up the PNG’s digital and cyber capability.

The program has involved developing and delivering a sustainable in-country cyber capability – including upskilling local staff with accredited cyber security training – to ensure PNG has the local expertise required to protect itself from attacks.

Nobert and Georgina working within the SOC in Port Moresby.

Since launching four years ago, more than 110 individuals have upskilled in Tier 1 Cyber Analyst Training, with 6 NCSC staff completing Tier 2.  While training was initially delivered via online and in-person workshops, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the majority of training shift to virtual, meaning participants can now train wherever there is a secure internet connection.

The NCSC has continued to grow and deliver on its mission to protect PNG’s digital assets. The ability to train PNG government employees and citizens in new technology helps secure new career pathways, while improving national resilience and regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. Now, PNG are looking to expand the scope of the Cyber and Digital training to all IT staff within the PNG Government and state-owned enterprises.

While the NCSC was a first-of-its-kind initiative, the early success of the project has not only supported PNG in ensuring it has robust cyber capabilities in place – it has also provided a proven working model for how to rapidly establish and staff a cyber security centre.

WithYouWithMe Vice President Oceania Javiera Soto says that moving forward, PNG is well-positioned to drive a safe and secure digital economy as the programme transitions from Australian-led to wholly operated by PNG staff from mid-2022.

By taking a tech-led approach to building human cyber capabilities and scaling a workforce to respond to risks posed by external state cyber threats, the NCSC stands as a best-practice model for all government agencies

Javiera Soto
Vice President Oceania, WithYouWithMe

“The success of the NCSC demonstrates that potential cyber workforces can be drawn from multiple generations, ranks, trades and industries, and can be from the military services, government, community, private organisations and businesses. This contemporary way of working should be embedded in cyber workforce planning to improve the productivity, efficiency, and resilience of cyber workforces in Australia, the Pacific region and beyond.”

To learn more about how to establish a Cyber Force, speak to one of our Cyber experts.

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