Australia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have signed a cyber-security pact to combat attacks on computing networks and defence systems.
This pact, the first of its kind to be signed with a non-NATO country, will help tackle the growing threats of cyber-attacks at all levels of government and business.
The pact was announced by NATO secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Mr Rasmussen is currently visiting Australia. He said Australia and the 28 members of the European NATO alliance make natural partners.
Combating terrorism, cyber attacks and piracy are key challenges facing a modern world, Mr Rasmussen said.
“Our world has changed tremendously over the past few decades. The security challenges we face are more complex and unpredictable.”
Countries worldwide are connected. “Our economies are connected. Our people are connected. And our security is connected.”
Australia remains vulnerable to continuing cyber-attacks, Mr Rasmussen noted. “Australia is a highly networked country. Two years ago, an attack disrupted the Parliament House website.”
Australian government departments and ministerial offices are regularly subjected to similar attacks. In recent months financial institutions have also been targeted.
Terrorism, cyber attacks, and piracy present global security challenges.
“Geography and distance no longer protect us. No country or continent can be insulated against global challenges – or deal with them on their own.”
The NATO alliance brings together the United States, Canada, and twenty-six European countries. The NATO partner network brings together 40 nations, including East Asia, Western Europe, North Africa and the South Pacific.
In earlier developments, Australia and the US also formalised closer relations on cyber security, including better sharing of information.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon signed a statement of cooperation with the US Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano during a visit to Washington in May.
The agreement increases collaboration between the two countries on critical infrastructure, including digital control systems.
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