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Defence to get cyber security beef up

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/06/2016 By Sarah Robson

The defence force's capability to deal with cyber security threats will be beefed up as part of the government's $20 billion, 15-year plan to modernise the military.

The just-released Defence White Paper has a significant focus on cyber security and ensuring the defence force is able to protect its own networks, platforms and people from cyber threats.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says what exactly the defence force's enhanced capability in this area will look like is yet to be determined.

However, he expects that in the coming years a significant number of people in the armed forces will specialise to a greater extent in cyber security and support.

"Cyber is now a significant weapon," Mr Brownlee told reporters.

Having cyber security capabilities was a "wider concept than just saying it's to protect or it's to attack", but Mr Brownlee confirmed New Zealand does have some capability to launch its own cyber attacks as a deterrent.

"You would expect in a circumstance where you knew that someone was trying to attack your communications system, or your operations system, or whatever it might be, that you would be able to deter that."

Mr Brownlee said it is important in a military sense that the defence force knows what other people are up to and whether its planes, ships or deployed troops could be interfered with by someone from the outside.

However, there hadn't been any breaches of defence force systems to date, he said.

Prime Minister John Key wouldn't go into details about who might threaten New Zealand with a cyber attack.

"There are a range of different actors in that space, from private sector individuals or organisations, right through to potentially government entities," he said.

"What we would say is the world is dramatically changing."

In addition to the new cyber support, the defence force will get more intelligence personnel to process, analyse and distribute the increasing amount of information coming from upgraded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems

The army's battlefield navigation and communications systems will also be digitised to meet contemporary requirements.

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