Australia's National Broadband Network-A cybersecure critical infrastructure?
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Computer and Security Science
In 2009 the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) began to be rolled out across Australia. The Australian NBN is the largest infrastructure project in Australia's history since the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme from 1949 to 1972 and it has a projected cost of between AU$37 billion and AU$43 billion. Its purposes are to provide high speed broadband connectivity to 93% of Australia's homes and businesses, to enhance productivity, to improve the delivery of education, tele-medicine and regional connectivity and to form the basis of the Australian telecommunications network for the 21st Century. However, the project does not have bi-partisan support and has been affected by high-level management changes and anticipated cost over-runs. The legal implications of the Australian NBN are as vast as the project itself. Its implementation has involved the enactment of a suite of Commonwealth legislation and will involve considerable competition law and long-term access issues which have already been much critiqued. However, despite information technology being in the top five critical infrastructures internationally, a critical infrastructure analysis of the NBN has had little public attention. Similarly, due to the confidential nature of much of the NBN's operations, the cybersecurity aspects of the project have only been lightly scrutinised. Paradoxically, it is contended that greater scrutiny and public access to vital information will provide enhanced, not less, security for both the network itself and for Australian users and will also provide for a more secure and reliable engagement with Australia's international trading partners. Given the need for a high level of trust in, and the immense reliance upon, the Australian NBN, consumer and business confidence can only be enhanced by greater awareness of the critical infrastructure implications of the Australian NBN for Australia's future.