In a bid to maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia has pledged $37.5 million to bolster the security and development of critical technology in neighboring countries as part of its updated International Cyber Engagement Strategy. The funding aims to promote the resilience of critical technologies in Southeast Asia and to support Australia’s Pacific neighbours by improving online safety, counter misinformation and to fight cybercrime.

Australia’s new strategy is set to have a strong focus on critical technologies, such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT). According to the Australian government, the Indo-Pacific region has demonstrated how a focus on critical technologies can lead to a range of defence and economic advantages and thereby shifts the balance of power between states.

This updated strategy also aims to raise global standards generally on the development, use and uptake of critical technologies and deter malicious activity enabled by these technologies.

The Australian government has clarified that it does not intend to regulate these technologies. Rather, it means to encourage the use of technologies in the region so as to maintain international peace, stability and an open and free cyber environment that encourages innovation.

Whilst critical technology needs to be protected by strong security measures like encryption, the strategy recognises that there must be a balance in the strength of these protections and law enforcement and security agencies’ ability to access these systems when necessary.

This approach is one strategy of how Australia intends to spend part of its newly allocated cyber budget and we look forward to seeing how the rest will be spent.