New AustCyber-funded projects target key cybersecurity industry pain points

Second round Projects Fund allocations will split $8.5m among 17 industry projects

Australian cybersecurity training startups have been given a shot in the arm, with an $8.5m injection of funds from AustCyber that will support new approaches to building the local industry and resolving Australia’s persistent cybersecurity skills shortage.

The allocation – the second round of funding under the three-year, $15m AustCyber Projects Fund – is designed to bolster partnerships between industry and training organisations to help the local industry develop a “responsive” workforce capable of keeping up with the fast-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Funding will be spread across 17 industry-led projects – more than the 10 projects funded for $6.5m in the first round – and include support for six of the ten cybersecurity-sector challenges identified in the organisation’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan 2019.

The fund is one of AustCyber’s “key mechanisms used to identify and support cyber security innovation through to commercialisation,” AustCyber CEO Michelle Price said in announcing the latest recipients.

Funded projects are “complementing projects funded through industry, research organisations and other government initiatives,” Price said, adding that it was “great to see Australian companies partnering with domestic and international corporates within the broader ecosystem.”

Allocations include further support for projects like Quad IQ’s Intelligent Trust Evaluation System for faster security vetting, and a tool from Locii that distributes biometric information to avoid potential compromise due to data being centralised.

Other recipients include an Alpha Beta project for tracking cybersecurity job demand by state and metro areas; a Cynch Security-Deakin University partnership to evaluate the impact of cyber risk interventions; a Serinus Security WiFi threat analytics platform; a trial of a Amplify Intelligence-Gallagher cyber safety service that will be trialled by 100 small businesses; and more.

One of the key areas addressed in this round of funding is the cybersecurity skills gap – something that is being addressed by FifthDomain, a fast-moving startup that last year began working with the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) to build cyber training, resources, programs, and facilities.

The organisations will receive $1.9m from the current tranche of funding, which they will use to combine FifthDomain’s virtualised learning platform with the individual training lab established a year ago. This includes a range of ‘cyber range exercises’ and gamified Capture-the-Flag challenges designed to improve trainees’ industry readiness.

“Defending networks against malicious cyber activity is much like going to war,” FifthDomain CEO and founder Matt Wilcox said in joining AustCyber to announce the new funding.

“We expect our Defence personnel to constantly train and practice their craft to protect and defend. The same applies to cyber operators [who] need to explore and practice many ways to protect our digital assets and information, so it becomes second nature.”

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