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Ten Australian government agencies battling it out in Cyber War Games hosted by Department of Human Services

Photo credit: DHS

Players from 10 different agencies are battling it out at the first Australian Government Cyber War Games, hosted by the Department of Human Services (DHS). Team representatives attended the department’s Cyber Range to learn the order of play ahead of the games, which started on Monday next week (18 September).

The games are running from 18–22 September, with teams set to compete in a series of unique challenges to test and demonstrate their capabilities in the cyber world. The players from different agencies will engage in friendly online warfare taking turns attacking and defending a Lego® city infrastructure.

The agencies playing in Operation First Wave 2017 include the Department of Immigration and Border protection (DIBP), Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Crime intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Department of Health (DoH), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and CERT Australia.

This exercise is expected to provide a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a cyber adversary to attack critical infrastructure and gain a deeper understanding of how cyber criminals operate. Teams will also have the opportunity to play a defence role.

The games look at a broad range of skills and many of them are not technical. Each team will be scored by a panel of seven adjudicators with extensive domestic and international cybersecurity experience, against a range of criteria including team work, communication, planning, critical thinking and creativity.

While only one team will be crowned as the ultimate winner, the benefits are expected to be far-reaching for all competitors and agencies.

Principal architect of the war games, Department of Human Services Chief Information Security Officer Narelle Devine said the strong participation from other agencies was very encouraging.

Ms. Devine said, “Cyber-attacks are a serious and constantly evolving threat that have the potential to cost governments more than a major natural disaster. To best protect the information and security of the Australian community, it’s important we understand how cunning cyber criminals operate by giving teams the opportunity to attack as well as defend.”

Former commander of the US Navy Pacific Fleet and current Vice President for Customer Education at international cyber security company, FireEye, Admiral Patrick Walsh, who is one of the adjudicators said, “This exercise simulates realistic scenarios in a competitive environment where teams can sharpen skills and focus on the proficiency, currency, and readiness levels necessary to succeed against increasingly sophisticated cyber security threats.”

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