The NSW government is throwing $1.6 billion at its Digital Restart Fund in an bid to increase digital services across government agencies and improve cyber security.

NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said the spend was a sign of the growing importance of IT.

“This record investment in technology recognises that digital infrastructure is as important as transport infrastructure to the State’s economic growth,” he said.

“We must be fast followers in the Digital Revolution to accelerate agility, lift productivity and generate the jobs of tomorrow.”

Of the $1.6 billion worth of funding, $240 million are committed to enhancing the government’s cyber security.

Customer service minister, Victor Dominello, called it a record spend on cyber security.

“This is the biggest single cyber security investment in national history, and will strengthen the Government’s capacity to detect and respond to the fast moving cyber threat landscape,” Dominello said.

“We are leading the nation on bricks and mortar infrastructure and this historic investment will positon us to develop a world leading cyber security industry and be a jobs hub for this critical multi-billion-dollar sector.”

The NSW Digital Restart Fund was established late last year and will fund projects that “improve citizen experience” as well as continuing to modernising state government ICT infrastructure.

Under attack

The major cyber security investment was announced a day prior to Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning that the nation is being targeted by persistent and sophisticated state-based cyber actors.

Government organisations, businesses, and critical infrastructure have been under attack by an unattributed state actor, the PM said, with the Australian Cyber Security Centre advising that the threat actors begin by probing public network vulnerabilities before moving onto spear phishing campaigns.

In May, Service NSW was hit by a cyber attack targeting staff emails.

While the government offered reassurances that the incident’s impact was limited, it highlighted a need for government agencies to be cyber aware while undergoing digital transformation.

In the past 12 months, NSW has implemented major digital projects including the Digital Drivers Licence and Spatial Digital Twin that accurately maps the state to help developers and city planners.

Data NSW also tested a new data sharing framework that it used to inform the release of COVID-19 case data online.

The state has also leaned on technology for law enforcement. In December last year, Transport for NSW switched on its world-first AI-powered cameras to detect drivers using their phones.