Skip links

UK, Australia, to build ‘network of liberty that will deter cyber attacks before they happen’

The United Kingdom and Australia have signed a Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership that will, among other things, transport criminals to a harsh penal regime on the other side of the world.

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and UK foreign secretary Liz Truss yesterday inked the document in Sydney but haven’t revealed the text of the pact.

What we do know is that the two nations have pledged to “Increase deterrence by raising the costs for hostile state activity in cyberspace – including through strategic co-ordination of our cyber sanctions regimes.” That’s code for both nations adopting the same deterrents and punishments for online malfeasance so that malfeasants can’t shop jurisdictions to find more lenient penalties.

The two ministers also decided the time has come to upgrade the Military Cooperation Framework between the nations, by agreeing to further exchanges of specialist cyber personnel and increasing bilateral participation in one another’s respective cyber exercises.

Both nations also agreed to conduct joint “capacity building activity” in the Indo-Pacific, by working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to deter and recover from ransomware attack.

Another collaboration will “Develop an action plan on global standard-setting to ensure global standards deliver on our security priorities, economic interests and reflect our values.”

Truss’s statement describes the new arrangements as working towards “a network of liberty that will deter cyber-attacks before they happen and call out malign actors who perpetrate the acts.” Just how that will happen was not explained.

The talks follow the formation of the US/UK/Australia AUKUS bloc that plans a joint “focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.”

That last phrase refers to a promise that Australia will become the first nation allowed to build and operate nuclear-powered submarines that employ tech from the USA or UK. Delivery of those vessels is at least a decade away – probably more. ®