SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia will spend A$1.66 billion (S$1.62 billion) over the next 10 years to strengthen the cyber defences of private companies and households following a rise in cyber attacks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday (Aug 6).
Cyber attacks on businesses and households are costing about A$29 billion or 1.5 per cent of the country's GDP, Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Just weeks ago, Canberra said it will spend A$1.35 billion over the next decade to bolster the capabilities of the country's chief cyber intelligence agency.
Mr Morrison said in June that a "sophisticated state-based actor" had spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure.
Much of Australia's cyber policy to date has focused on bolstering the defences of government agencies after an attack on the country's parliament in 2019, but malicious cyber activity is increasing against small and medium businesses, universities and households, said Mr Morrison.
The increased spending is intended to fortify critical infrastructure, boost police efforts to disrupt criminal activity on the dark web and strengthen community awareness.
"We will protect our vital infrastructure and services from cyber attacks. We will support businesses to protect themselves so they can succeed in the digital economy," said Mr Morrison.
Australia will also embark on a more aggressive approach to disrupting would-be attackers.
The Australian Signals Directorate - which Reuters revealed late last year determined China was responsible for hacking Australia's parliament - will be given new funding to counter foreign cyber attacks.
China denies it was responsible for the attack on the country's parliament that came just months ahead of a national election.