Australia’s first international cyber strategy has been announced, setting out the country’s cyber affairs over the next three years.

The International Cyber Engagement Strategy proposes to foster good security practises and respond to global cyber incidents.

In her announcement of the strategy at Telstra, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said cyber space is not an ungoverned space, and cautioned that there are consequences for those who 'flout the rules'.

"States [must] acknowledge that activities in cyberspace are governed by the same set of rules as military and security activities in traditional domains.

“The borderless nature of cyberspace presents us with as many challenges as it does opportunities,” she said.

Bishop observed that most cyber crime affecting Australians originates overseas, and thus it is only through international engagement that cyber crime safe havens can be shut down.

“For the internet to remain an accelerator of economic prosperity and sustainable development we must engage internationally, with governments, the private sector, and civil society to advance and protect our shared interests,” she said.

Ties to the Indo-Pacific

In addition to the $4 million provided in 2016, Bishop said the Government will invest $10 million to the Cyber Cooperation Program to support the engagement strategy’s implementation, focusing on the Indo-Pacific region. The program’s initiatives include a cyber security network and scholarship opportunities.

The region is home to some of world’s most advanced digital economies, in which Bishop said Australia is playing a lead role in the development of governance in cyber space.

“We are piloting a Pacific Connect program that brings together Pacific and Australian leaders from public and private sectors to collaborate and build relationships between governments, communities and businesses.

“It's in partnership with countries of the Indo-Pacific, our region, that Australia can best leverage our capacity building resources,” she said.

Bishop said improved connectivity and access to the internet across the Indo-Pacific will generate more economic growth for countries in the region, as well as providing new market opportunities for Australian businesses. This is especially pertinent as, on a global scale, data flows are estimated to generate greater value than goods trading.

Bishop also referred to the Foreign Policy White Paper being released later this year, which will set out a framework for Australia's international engagement over the next decade, and announced a Technology for Development challenge being launched by the Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and AusCyber, which will allow entrepreneurs and start-ups from Australia and the Indo-Pacific to find tech solutions for regional development.

This engagement strategy is part of the $230 million Cyber Security Strategy announced in 2016, which addressed its formation.

A full copy of the minister’s speech can be found here.