Australia launches federal cybercrime center as part of national plan

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Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has launched a center to bolster the country’s cybercrime fighting efforts.

The AU$89 million cybercrime center forms part of Home Affairs’ national plan to combat cybercrime, which was announced alongside the centre’s launch on Monday morning.

The AU$89 million was provided through the AU$1.67 billion in funding for Australia’s cybersecurity strategy by the federal government.

Andrews said the national plan and the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) new cybercrime centre, called Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Center (JPC3), would bring together the experience, powers, capabilities, and intelligence needed to build a strong, multi-faceted response.

“Using far-reaching Commonwealth legislation and high-end technical capabilities, the AFP’s new cybercrime center will aggressively target cyber threats, shut them down, and bring offenders to justice,” Andrews said.

“During the pandemic, cybercrime became one of the fastest-growing and most prolific forms of crime committed against Australians. The tools and the techniques used to rob or extort Australians became more effective and more freely available than ever before.”

Home Affairs first announced the center was being developed back in November, at the time explaining the AFP would use the center to specifically focus on preventing cybercriminals from scamming, stealing, and defrauding Australians.

Based in the AFP’s New South Wales headquarters, JPC3’s operations will be led by Australian Federal Police (AFP) assistant commissioner Justine Gough, who is the AFP’s first full-time executive dedicated to countering cybercrime.

Looking at the national cybercrime plan, Home Affairs envisions governments at all levels will operate under a cybercrime-fighting framework prioritizing three pillars: Preventing and protecting cybercrime; investigating, disrupting, and prosecuting cybercrime incidents; and helping recover victims from cybercrime incidents.

Alongside launching the cybercrime centre, the plan also outlines a goal of establishing a national cybercrime forum that brings representatives from Commonwealth, state and territory justice departments, law enforcement agencies and regulators — such as the Office of the eSafety Commissioner — to develop a national cybercrime action plan.

Last month, Home Affairs introduced three new Bills into Parliament, covering the federal government’s ransomware action plan, critical aviation and marine cybersecurity, and mobile phone access in prisons.

The department is also pushing for a second tranche of cyber laws targeted at critical infrastructure sectors, which is currently being reviewed by a parliamentary committee, to become law.

Labeled by Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo last month as the government’s defense against cyber threats, the federal government is hoping the second tranche of cyber laws will create a standardized critical infrastructure framework for Australia’s intelligence agencies.

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