Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Cyber Security in Defence Strategic Review

Had a call from the media asking about cyber security in the Defence Strategic Review (I was interviewed from the shower cubicle in my Singapore hotel room). There is a section on "Cyber domain and targeting" in the report (page 63):

"Australia’s cyber and information operations capabilities must be scaled up and optimised.

Under project REDSPICE, the Australian Signals Directorate is significantly expanding its signals intelligence and cyber capabilities and capacity.

Defence must enhance its cyber domain capabilities to deliver the required responsiveness and breadth of capability to support ADF operations. This must focus on: integrating the defence and management of Defence’s C4 networks and architectures; delivering a coherent and, where possible, centralised cyber domain capability development and management function; and building and sustaining a trained Defence cyber workforce."
 But I am not sure centralizing is a good idea.
"Defence must also continue to develop its cyber and space capabilities." page 7
"To maximise the deterrence, denial and response options for the Government, the ADF must evolve into a genuine Integrated Force which harnesses effects across all five domains: maritime, land, air, space and cyber." page 19
 Will cyber have the corresponding funding and staffing?
"In the contemporary strategic era, we cannot rely on geography or warning time. Regional military modernisation, underpinned by economic development, has meant that more countries are able to project combat power across greater ranges in all five domains: maritime, land, air, space and cyber. Emerging and disruptive technologies are being rapidly translated into military capability." page 24
Is Australia planning to transition into combat in the cyber domain?
"Cyber warfare is not bound by geography." page 25
So what are the implications of cyber war not being geographically bounded?
"Internal measures have included: increased defence and national security spending; the reorganisation of elements of the national intelligence and national security community; substantial investments in cyber security;" page 33
In particular?
"Deterrence strategy and practice is evolving. In military terms it now spans five domains: maritime, land, air, space and cyber." page 37
Is deterrence effective in the cyber domain?
"Although invasion of the Australian continent is a remote possibility, any adversary could seek to coerce Australia through cyber attacks ..." page 37
Could the attacks be made in a coordinated enough way to be useful for coerce? Under international law, Australia need not respond to cyber attack with a cyber attack, it can use missiles, bombs, and troops.
"Resilience requires the ability to withstand, endure and recover from disruption. ... robust cyber security, data networks and space capabilities;" page 38
For example, having backups.
The strategy of denial must also recognise the importance of non-geographic security threats, including cyber, space and long-range missile capabilities." page 49
Could Australia be digitally blockaded?
"The adoption of this approach will necessarily lead to a very different force structure and posture to what the ADF has today. More attention and resources must be devoted to crucial future-focused joint capabilities such as information warfare, cyber capabilities, electronic warfare, and guided weapons and explosive ordnance." page 51

How many cyber and information warfare troops does the ADF have? How many do they need? Will the ADF pay enough to retain them?
"The evolution to five domains – maritime, land, air, space and cyber – demands a new approach." page 54

"Defence’s cyber security arrangements should be enhanced in
close collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate." page 83

"Defence’s cyber security operations capability in Chief
Information Officer Group should be increased and legacy systems and platforms should be decommissioned." page 83
What will that cost, and how long will it take? For Y2K we took years, and hundreds of millions of dollars, to tidy up old systems.
"Options should be developed to change Defence’s recruitment framework to improve the eligibility pool of potential applications and to align service recruitment requirements to military employment, especially in key technical and specialist trades (cyber, engineering, space, etc.)." page 88
Perhaps the physical fitness requirement will be lowered for computer nerds? 😉
"The Government also notes that in the contemporary strategic environment, developments in cyber, space and long-range precision strike mean our defence interests are not bound by geography alone." page 103

"A comprehensive framework should be developed for managing operations in the cyber domain that is consistent with the other domains. Agreed"

"Defence’s cyber domain capabilities should be strengthened to deliver the required breadth of capability with appropriate responsiveness to support ADF operations. Agreed in-principle" page 106
Only in principle?
"Options should be developed to change Defence’s recruitment framework to improve the eligibility pool of potential applications and to align service recruitment requirements to military employment, especially in key technical and specialist trades (cyber, engineering, space, etc.). Agreed" page 107
So the nerds will not need to do pushups?
"Defence’s cyber security arrangements should be enhanced in close collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate. Agreed" page 108
And the universities? 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Greetings from the Bangalore Club

At the Bangalore Club
Greetings from the Bangalore Club, in downtown Bengaluru. I am in India for a wedding, and our hosts have put up the wedding party at their club. The club was Founded in 1868 for British officers, and is an oasis of tranquility in the bustle of the city. The club is a good metaphor for India, and Bengaluru is particular, rushing headlong into a high tech future, while attempting to retain traditions, and come to terms with its colonial past. Each day I receive a newspaper under the door (yes, they still provide newspapers at the Club, which can be read in the stuffed leather chairs). Sunday's headline was "Skills training: An incomplete solution to India's jobs crisis" (Deccan Herald,  E T B Sivapriyan, 23 April 2023). The article took up most of pages one and two, indicating the importance given to education in India. The issues are very similar to Australia: How useful is formal training in getting a job? Why are so many students failing to complete? Are they getting the right skills? Do centrally funded training programs work?  

If Australia can work out solutions to these issues domestically, there is potential for export of training systems to India. But it might be better to work with India, on common solutions, than assume Australia has all the answers.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Join ANU Computing as a Guest Lecturer

The ANU College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics is looking for guest lecturers:

"As an expert in your field, join us and contribute your insights to our program and enrich our student's knowledge through your experience and knowledge in Foundations & Cyber Security, Data Science, AI/Machine Learning, Human Centered Computing, Software Engineering, Systems and Architecture and Computer Science.

Your expertise will be of great value to our program and students." Apply now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Is engagement the same for face-to-face and online?

I will be taking part in the HERDSA panel “Is engagement the same off and online?” (Wednesday 19th April 1pm, Sydney time). So are my thoughts on the subject:

The question should be: "What is engagement? How do we know when we have achieved it?"

Engagement is the same for face-to-face and online. The challenge is to make person-to-person connection with the student, more importantly *between* the students, and ideally with an external client. This can be done online, just as, or more effectively, than face to face.

For eight years I have been helping with the Techlauncher program at ANU. This has hundreds of students in teams of a half dozen, working on projects for clients, from academia, business, industry and government. It was designed for face to face delivery. Clients give 60 second pitches competing for students, in an intensive two hour session, on campus. Teams form and then work for a year on the project.

The format worked fine. But in 2016 I suggested Canberra's universities should be ready if a regional crisis kept international students off shore. I argued international and Australia students could work together online.

In 2019 I described flipping the classroom activities for part of Techlauncher, and adding a pure online option ready for an emergency (Worthington, 2019). This was implemented for COVID-19 in 2020 (Worthington, 2020). There was no change to the course content, or assessment, replacing classrooms with Zoom rooms. A key part was the use of a Learning Management System (Moodle), online forums (Piazza), and specialist project management tools (Slack), which are routinely used for running software development teams spread around the world.

This semester I have been mentoring a dozen interns, doing individual projects at workplaces in Canberra, and across Australia. Most of those in Canberra have opted to come to the campus to talk face to face. But this is not an option if they are in Perth, and Zoom works fine. One who was in transit between workplaces Zoomed from a car (not driving). The shaky-cam made me slightly sea-sick, but otherwise this worked okay. ;-)

The key part of the student engagement is for the teacher to be trained in how to teach real world relevant skills. It helps if they have been trained to do this using online courses. I had the advantage of training at TAFE, and online universities, in these skills. We need to have our teaching academics routinely exposed to these tools and techniques, to get them away from the nonsense of lectures and exams.


Worthington, T. (2019, December). Blend and flip for teaching communication skills to final year international computer science students. In 2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Education (TALE) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

Worthington, T. (2020, April). Responding to the Coronavirus Emergency with e-Learning. Athabasca University.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

City of the Future in Singapore is Singapore

Liam Young 
On a brief stopover in Singapore, I happened across "City Utopia" at the Semi Permanent Festival of Creativity & Design. This was sponsored by Audi, and the venue was the lotus shaped
ArtScience Museum. There were electric cars displayed as art, and in between a podium and seats for the talk. The talk turned out to be a performance, with Liam Young narrating a video about a planet wide single city of the future. The concept was that humanity could live in one interconnected metropolis, with the rest of the planet returned to wilderness. 

Visualization of city infrastructure
 at Singapore City Gallery
The graphics for the world city were impressive, showing towering buildings, made up of futuristic, and old fashioned elements. But it was a little too dark and Blade Runner for my liking. I much preferred the actual city of the future, all around us: Singapore. Young mentioned Sim City, and this also featured in a multimedia display at the Singapore City Gallery, with their version called "Sing City".

I much preferred Singapore City's take on the future. But Aldi might not be happy with it. At the interactive Sing City display I selected the private car option, and the simulation showed all the green space converted to car parks, and roads clogged with cars. The message was clear: we need to move away from dependence on private cars, even if they are electric. 

Regardless of if we agree with the futures shown by Young or Singapore, such visions are useful in making informed choices.

Liam Young is an architect who doesn't design real buildings. He is not the first I have come across.  In 2001, design students at University of Canberra had my home office as their assignment. I was surprised to find the top design was by someone who did not plan a career doing real buildings, instead they were going to do them for video games. I presented my own vision of the city of Canberra to a Bauhaus class of design students working on a design for Sydney.