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Cyber terrorism and cyber security

Cyber terrorism can broadly be defined as a computer network attack or exploitation perpetrated at the direction, on behalf of, or in support of a terrorist group or an extremist ideology with the ultimate and most extreme intent being to threaten life and inflict physical or economic harm. While some terrorists have declared a desire to conduct cyber terrorism, to date they have only engaged in rudimentary acts of cyber sabotage-acts designed to deny, degrade, disrupt or destroy information and/or linked systems and hardware.

Information and communications technology permeates much of Australia's critical infrastructure and underpins our economy. It is vulnerable to exploitation by state or non‑state actors seeking to damage Australia's economy and necessitates an effective and coordinated response. The Australian Government recently released a Cyber Security Strategy, which details how the Australian Government is harnessing a broad range of resources to assist and protect government, business and individual Australians in the online environment.

Although terrorists have not shown a strong interest in conducting cyber attacks, the Australian Government has implemented a range of measures to reduce the risk and consequences of any such attack on Australia's national interests. Working in partnership with the private sector - particularly in the banking and finance, telecommunications and utilities sectors - the Australian Government, through CERT Australia, provides regular briefings on cyber security. CERT Australia will ensure that all Australians and Australian businesses have access to information on how to better protect their information technology environments from cyber-based threats and vulnerabilities. Information for all Australian internet users, including the simple steps they can take to secure themselves online, is available at Stay Smart Online.

The Australian Government has also established the Australian Cyber Security Centre in November 2014 to improve awareness of cyber threats and to coordinate responses to cyber security incidents of national importance.