Microsoft signs major security deal with Australian govt

Cyberterrorism and other matters to be addressed

The Australian federal government has signed a whole-of-government agreement with Microsoft to exchange information on security issues, ranging from cyber-terrorism and general security bulletins.

As part of the arrangement, Microsoft will provide the government with a monthly security bulletin and, in return, Microsoft will have closer contact with government agencies to learn how Microsoft products are being used and are operating.

The alliance, dubbed the Security Cooperation Programme (SCP), is Microsoft’s first whole-of-government agreement in Australia.

Announcing the agreement, the Australian Attorney General, Phillip Ruddock, said the SCP is one way to remain ahead of hackers and criminals “who seek to exploit information technology systems for their own benefit or to inflict harm on our community.

“The SCP would help defend government systems against terrorists who may be planning to break into computer systems to shut down markets, or disrupt water or electricity services.”

All federal government agencies are immediately part of the agreement and state and territory governments can also sign up to the SCP.

Michael Warrilow, an analyst at Hydrasight, a consultancy firm, says if the arrangement involves anything more than exchanging information, he has serious concerns.

He says the way it looks at the moment involves little more than a “feel-good approach” with little actual merit.

“The Attorney General has already invested in AusCert for Australia and the region, as well as the critical infrastructure group, whereas the government overall has invested in the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD),” Warrilow says.

“In my opinion these agencies represent a far better means of protecting the government and Australian society.”

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