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International Webinar: Is Australia prepared to defeat information warfare?

Reform options: an infowar militia and/or more civic engagement?

Thursday 25 July 4.00pm to 5.30pm Sydney 

Australia’s information environment is under constant attack, by enemies both foreign and domestic. The threats are multifaceted and growing. Beyond the well-known cybercrime and national security challenges from countries like Russia and China, we face a barrage of online mis- and dis-information aimed at undermining our social cohesion on issues as diverse as public health (vaccinations), immigration and representative democracy. Several research studies in 2023 and 2024 have identified lack of an appropriate national coordination institution designed to meet all these threats. Despite increased emphasis on the cyber domain, our existing public and private tools to defeat information operations are likely inadequate. Researchers are calling for Australia to adopt a whole-of-society approach to the defence of the cyber information environment. The webinar will feature presentations by internationally prominent scholars, Professor Dan Svantesson, Bond University, and Professor Mathieu O’Neil, University of Canberra.   ​Svantesson will draw on two papers, Crowdsourcing an Australian cyber intelligence and information militia (June 2024) and Regulating a ‘Cyber Militia’ – Some Lessons from Ukraine, and Thoughts about the Future (2023). The 2024 paper, released on 8 July 2024, canvasses options for an Australian ‘cyber intelligence and information militia’. This would be a ‘crowdsourced’ civilian volunteer cyber reserve capability fit to engage in open source intelligence (OSINT) and information warfare. Such a resource could play an important role in supplementing other existing, and developing capabilities. ​O’Neil will present key conclusions from two co-authored studies, Building Resilience with Information Literacy and Information Health, based on a submission to the Australian Senate’s Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media, and  What does it look like for Australia to Use all Tools of Statecraft in the Information Environment, published by  AP4D. ​The discussion will be chaired by Professor Greg Austin, Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology Sydney and Research Director of the Social Cyber Institute. The 90-minute seminar will be held online from 4pm to 5.30pm Sydney | 1pm to 2.30pm Jakarta | 11.30am to 1pm Delhi | 10am to 11.30am Dubai | 9am to 10.30am Istanbul | 9am to 10.30am Bucharest | 8am to 9.30am Paris. ​To register: click here. ​You will receive a link to the Zoom webinar on registration and a reminder on 24 July. ​The Social Cyber Institute (SCI) creates new social science insights to complement technology in the fight for a more secure cyberspace. SCI is a non-profit organisation supported by the Social Cyber Group which offers advisory and training services in cyber policy. Speaker notes Dan Jerker B Svantesson is a Senior Fellow with the Social Cyber Institute. He specialises in international aspects of the IT society, a field within which he has authored or co-authored more than 280 publications, and given presentations in Australia, Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. Dan is a Professor at the Faculty of Law in Bond University where he is a co-director for the Centre for Space, Cyberspace & Data Law. He is an Associated Researcher at the Swedish Law & Informatics Research Institute, Stockholm University, he held an ARC Future Fellowship (2012-2016) and was the inaugural Managing Editor for International Data Privacy Law, published by Oxford University Press. He is a Member of the Editorial Boards for several journals, including the Commonwealth Cybercrime Journal, the International Cybersecurity Law Review, the International Journal of Law and Information Technology, the Commonwealth Law Bulletin, the International Review of Law Computers and Technology, the Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology and the Computer Law and Security Review. Professor Svantesson has authored and contributed to commissioned reports by several international organisations including the UNODC, OECD, UNCTAD, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network. He has been identified as the Field Leader for “Technology Law” in studies published by League of Scholars together with The Australian for four years (2021, 2020, 2019, 2018), and has given expert opinions before leading courts such as the Court of Justice of the European Union. Mathieu O/Neil is Professor of Communication in the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts and Design and Honorary Associate Professor of Sociology at the Australian National University. His research interests lie at the intersection of political communication and sociology. Mathieu co-founded the Australian National University’s Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online networks, a world leader in big data analytics and computational social science. Most recently, he is developing heuristics to detect online echo chambers (Bots Building Bridges (3B): Theoretical, Empirical, and Technological Foundations for Systems that Monitor and Support Political Deliberation Online, Volkswagen Foundation, Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future, 2021-2024). In the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre, he has initiated multidisciplinary collaborations with UC researchers. Mathieu has played a key role in developing the field of peer production studies. (The term ‘peer production’ describes free and open source software in the 1990s, Wikipedia in the 2000s, and Blockchain in the 2010s). He was founder and inaugural editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Peer Production (2011-2021), editor of the Handbook of Peer Production (Wiley-Blackwell Handbooks in Communication and Media, 2021), and founder of an international think tank, the Digital Commons Policy Council, in 2021. He also leads an international team researching the economic and environmental sustainability of free and open source software (Mapping the co-production of digital infrastructure by peer projects and firms, Sloan and Ford Foundations, Critical Digital Infrastructure Fund, 2019-2021; DCPC: Pilot Research and Operational Costs, Ford Foundation, 2022-2024). Greg Austin is a co-founder of the Social Cyber Group. He has diverse international experience: as Programme Head for Cyber Power and Future Conflict at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (with offices in Singapore, London, Washington DC, Manama, and Berlin),  as a Professor of Cyber Security, Strategy and Diplomacy with the University of New South Wales Canberra; and as Vice President with the EastWest Institute in its Brussels office. He has published several books on international cyber policy, including two on China, and a number of articles and submissions on Australian cyber policy.  He has undertaken consultancies with the UK Ministry of Defence, the European Commission, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Office of National Intelligence, and Transport for New South Wales.

International Webinar: Cyber Policy Responses by Japan and Australia to the Russia/Ukraine War

Tuesday 5 March 4.00pm to 5.30pm Sydney 

         Watch video recording here

On 5 March, the Social Cyber Institute hosted an international webinar on “Cyber Policy Responses by Japan and Australia to the Russia/Ukraine War”. The webinar featured a presentation by Mihoko Matsubara drawing on her book, ‘ウクライナのサイバー戦争’[Ukraine’s Cyber War] which was published in Japanese in August 2023. Ms Matsubara is Chief Cyber Strategist with NTT in Tokyo. (NTT is ranked 109th in the Global Fortune 500.) The second presentation, on Australian policy, was by Professor Greg Austin, co-author of the recent IISS report, ‘Impact of the Russia–Ukraine War on National Cyber Planning: A Survey of Ten Countries’, and adjunct Professor at the Australia China Institute at the University of Technology Sydney. Greg is a co-founder of the Social Cyber Institute. The webinar addressed how the two governments have adjusted their national policies in response to cyber operations by Russia, Ukraine and their allies in their war now underway for two years. The discussion also analysed future options and challenges. The discussion was chaired by Professor Glenn Withers AO, Emeritus Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University and Founding Director of the Social Cyber Institute. The free webinar was in hybrid format from 4pm to 5.30pm Sydney time | 2pm to 3.30pm Tokyo time. The event was recorded. Wellington 1800 | Singapore 1300 | Delhi 1030 | Dubai 0900 | Nairobi 0800 | Istanbul 0600 | Paris 0400 | London 0300

International Webinar: Australian Cyber Security after Mega Data Breaches​

1 December 2022 

While corporations and government are making technical responses and adjustments to their cyber security after these cyber attacks and data compromises, important social dimensions of the problems are not getting the attention they deserve. Professor Glenn Withers (ANU) and Dr Greg Austin (IISS) will discuss the implications of the attacks for Australian cyber security policy. . They will also discuss the social aspects of the two attacks, against the background of the emerging discipline of social cyber security. The US and Australian intelligence communities are paying increasing attention to this new discipline. Withers and Austin spelled out the concept in a 2019 research paper published by the Social Cyber Institute. They also contributed to a short study on this subject.  ​​ Download: '6-Point Action Plan to Revitalise Australian Cybersecurity'

Virtual Workshop: Australia’s National Cyber Emergency
21 August 2020, 9:30am to 12:30pm

The Social Cyber Academy conducted a free interactive workshop via Zoom for senior executives from business and government to review Australia’s preparedness for a national cyber emergency. The workshop was led by Dr Greg Austin, Professor of Cyber Security, Strategy and Diplomacy at UNSW Canberra and the head of the programme on Cyber, Space and Future Conflict at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Austin was editor of the 2020 book National Cyber Emergencies: the Return to Civil Defence. The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas and knowledge relevant to their businesses, state governments or federal government agencies.

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