The Lawyer-General’s Department has flagged that stricter cyber protection accountability mechanisms could be on the way for federal federal government businesses next a string of worrying cyber resilience audits.

But the federal government continues to be tight-lipped on no matter if cyber protection controls would be enforced, like it is reportedly contemplating for the private sector as part of the country’s up coming cyber protection system.

This is regardless of decades of subpar compliance with the Australian Alerts Directorate’s necessary Best 4 cyber mitigation approaches across federal government, as repeatedly discovered by the Australian Nationwide Audit Place of work.

The Best 4 form part of the government’s protecting protection policy (PSPF) framework, which demands that businesses self-evaluate against sixteen main demands each and every year using a to ‘maturity model’ and report the benefits to the AGD.

The maturity model was released in Oct 2018 next a review that observed the former ‘compliance model’ contributed to a ’tick-the-box’ compliance society.

But early benefits from that reporting signifies that compliance continues to be somewhat unchanged, with seventy three p.c of businesses reporting both ‘ad hoc’ (13 p.c) or ‘developing’ (sixty p.c) stages of maturity in 2018-19 protecting protection policy framework (PSPF) reporting.

Speaking at a parliamentary inquiry into cyber resilience on Thursday, AGD’s integrity and international group deputy secretary Sarah Chidgey on Thursday mentioned the division was now searching at more enhancing the framework to push compliance.

“We have already flagged as part of the government’s protection committee … that we want to function on arrangements that would include to that self-assessment moderation choice to look at agencies’ score and aid them as part of that assessment procedure,” she mentioned.

“So that is something we have in our function method at the moment. We’re mindful that we’ve just had the initially year of maturity reporting, and are now searching at how we can make improvements to that building on the benefits we got from this year.”

When asked by Liberal Occasion MP and committee chair Lucy Wicks no matter if these discussions had regarded benchmarking businesses against other comparable businesses to assess cyber resilience, Chidgey mentioned “yes”.

“I consider that is what we’re searching at, especially in that including to the framework we’ve got far more of an external moderation or benchmarking procedure,” she mentioned.

“What we’ve got with the maturity model already enhances our comparative capability to a diploma across businesses, but we are contemplating how we more boost that by also an external mechanism.

“Whether we do it by businesses cross-evaluating each and every other or central arrangements for heading in and evaluating or moderating agencies’ assessment benefits is something we’re working by means of and have some first conversations with colleagues, for example, in New Zealand.”

The responses appear as the federal government talks up introducing tighter regulation of cyber protection protections for the private sector, especially banking companies, healthcare, utilities and other crucial infrastructure.

The bare minimum cyber protection specifications for corporations, which could be set “industry-by-industry”, would possible be released afterwards this year as part of the government’s cyber protection system. 

But Labor Occasion MP and deputy committee chair Julian Hill mentioned that introducing enforceable specifications in the private sector when the federal government was having difficulties to enforce its own cyber protection specifications less than the PSPF, could be witnessed as hypocritical.

“So we’ve got this circumstance in the Commonwealth exactly where there’s no regulator or enforcement for Commonwealth entities’ compliance with the government’s specifications,” he mentioned.

“And nonetheless the federal government is out there floating there about to put some teeth into regulating the private sector. Why the difference?”

In response, Department of Household Affairs’s cyber, electronic and technological innovation policy initially assistant secretary Hamish Hansford mentioned “there are a vary of diverse regulatory options” that the federal government was contemplating as part of the upcoming cyber protection system.

“In the context of regulation, definitely a subject for the federal government is to seem at how, if and when or why they would control, and the extent to which federal government would be provided in any regulatory reform or any holistic response to cyber protection,” he mentioned.

Hansford also mentioned that the federal government, as part of the cyber protection system, was searching at the “biggest question” of “how do you defend at scale”.

“How do you avert cyber protection attacks at scale across the Commonwealth, across all of our entities, what does that seem like, and how do you seem at aggregation far more generally, and how do you seem at the holistic community of federal government operations,” he mentioned.

“And that’s really a crucial concern from a macro cyber protection policy that the division is searching at really closely with the Electronic Transformation Company.

“And as I’ve indicated previously, the federal government will have something to say about federal government cyber protection in this regard in the coming months.”

Thoughts also remain more than the stage of accountability that businesses have to Parliament, specified that attempts by Labor to solicit solutions all around Best 4 and Critical Eight compliance past year have been fulfilled with the exact same blanket response. 

In these responses, the businesses – or most probably the ASD and Household Affairs – mentioned publicly reporting unique company compliance with the Critical Eight “may present a heat map for vulnerabilities “ that could “increase an agency’s possibility of cyber incidents ”.

As Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Safety Tim Watts observed, not reporting these details in a community discussion board, or ASD’s anonymised cyber protection posture report to parliament, the federal government had opted for “security in obscurity”.