1st Australian-German 1.5 Track Cyber Security Dialogue

“Mapping the Field: The New Ecology of Cyber Security Challenges”

We are very pleased to publish this analysis paper as a result of the first Australian-German 1.5 Track Cyber Security Dialogue, held in Canberra in June 2018. The Dialogue was a joint undertaking between the Department of Security Studies and Criminology (SSC) at Macquarie University and the Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. It brought together policy makers, government officials, business leaders and academics from Australia and Germany. The goal was to discuss the most pressing cyber security challenges and identify areas for further bilateral cooperation in this area.

The recommendations of the high-level Australia Germany Advisory Group (AGAG) set out the intensification of strategic dialogue and cooperation as a clear goal for our two countries. The Konrad
Adenauer Foundation, being mentioned in the AGAG’s progress report, certainly tries to contribute to this via different platforms for knowledge exchange and discussion together with its Australian partners: the already well-established annual Europe-Australia Counter Terrorism Dialogue for example, its Energy Security Dialogue and now adding the dialogue on cyber security. Macquarie University has put a major emphasis on cyber security-related research and teaching programs, including the establishment of the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub, a $10million joint investment with Optus to tackle real world cyber security challenges. For many years, SSC has taught undergraduate and postgraduate cyber security programs. The department has also been a proud partner of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in the delivery of international cyber security engagement projects.

It is a fact that cross-border cyber threats are real, with major ramifications for national security. This means that we are facing manifold challenges emanating from the information and cyber domain. Cyberspace is an evolving ecosystem and threat landscape which has effects on the foreign policy of our countries and the global security architecture in general.

Fighting cyber-related financial fraud, cybercrime and security threats in the digital age requires new ways of thinking, new technologies, and a new digital ecosystem to tackle evolving risks. The questions at stake here are:

  • How do we to protect ourselves against cyber attacks on critical infrastructure?
  • How do we develop global cyber norms?
  • How can we contribute to the evolution of cyber security policies?

Ensuring cyber security has thus turned into a central challenge for governments, the private sector and society, both at the national as well as the international level. And only a concerted response across all those sectors can guarantee success. Indeed, too often cyber security challenges are still treated as a predominantly technical problem, requiring a technical solution. While the technological dimension is certainly important, arguably the political, regulatory and societal frameworks are equally, if not more, critical to address the multi-dimensional aspects of cyber security. For instance, in times of major power shifts in the international systems, increasing great power rivalry, the struggle to stem the erosion of Europe, efforts to develop and implement effective international ‘rules of the road’ are facing significant challenges. Both Australia and Germany have been driving forces in international cyber diplomacy but have to keep the momentum.

Our conference addressed crucial aspects of contemporary cyber security challenges, ranging from the geopolitical level and questions about the shifting global order and international cyber norms to military cyber operations, private sector/industry perspectives, as well as the challenges of building the cyber workforce of the future. We were honoured by the presence and support of the keynote speaker, Dr. Tobias Feakin, Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who delivered the official opening address and also contributed to the panel on ‘tackling the international cyber norm crisis’.

The Dialogue succeeded in identifying common cyber security interests between our two nations. Indeed, in a more fragile and uncertain world, like-minded, medium-sized powers such as Australia and Germany need to work even closer together to create a workable international cyber security framework and learn from each other’s ‘best practice’. The discussions also vividly demonstrated the vast untapped potential for much deeper Australia-German cyber security cooperation. Cyberspace does not break down geographical distances when it comes to practical cooperation. Therefore, creating habits of regular bilateral cyber cooperation will be crucial and it is hoped the next iterations of the dialogue will assist in this endeavour.

Prof. Benjamin Schreer
Head, Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University

Dr. Beatrice Gorawantschy
Director Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

Dr Beatrice Gorawantschy

Director KAS Regional Programme for Australia and the Pacific


Dr Beatrice Gorawantschy is the Director of the KAS Regional Programme Australia & the Pacific. Her vision for PERISCOPE is to be a focussed instrument and platform to further “build thematic bridges” and “overcome geographical distances” between Europe and Australia and the Pacific Region.

Beatrice holds a PhD in Political Science from the Saar University in Germany. She has been working with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) since 1992 and served on postings for the  Foundation to Ankara, Manila, Bangkok, Paris, New Delhi and Singapore and also headed the Department of Asia and the Pacific of KAS Headquarters in Berlin. Her research and work in the field of international relations in the past 30 years  focussed on politics in the Middle East and Asia – South and  South East Asia (including the regional organisations ASEAN and SAARC) in particular – and these regions’ relations to Europe. In the beginning of 2017, the new KAS Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific, based in Canberra, was established under her directorship. Having been posted to various offices of KAS’ international network, it is an exciting challenge and great privilege for her to shape this programme on a new continent. Beatrice’s various assignments in Europe and Asia always made her reflect on how to bring the different regions closer together. This is best summed up by the recognition that what is happening in the Asia Pacific region matters to Europe and vice versa – and the Covid-19 Pandemic has made this even more obvious.