Australia launched its first International Cyber Engagement Strategy this month, according to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. The Australian government is making it clear that international norms must be adhered to in cyberspace or there will be consequences that may involve the military. The Australian Signals Directorate has received approval to use its offensive cyber capabilities against “organised offshore cyber criminal networks.” The Cyber Engagement Strategy stresses that Australia’s offensive cyber capabilities are in agreement with international laws and backed by the Australian Defence Force.

          Bishop also urges other states to commit to working within international law regarding cyber activity. Australia’s strategy encourages states to be more straightforward regarding the military use of offensive cyber capabilities and acknowledge that cyberspace military actions are governed just as military actions in the physical domains. Australia aims to develop a system for cooperation between allies for lawful response to “unacceptable behaviour in cyberspace”. The goal is to combine the cyber security skills of many countries, the private sector, civil society, and researchers through cyber policy and cyber security discussions.

          The United States and other key state actors should react to Australia’s efforts in much the same way as they have been, by continuing discussions with each other about cyber policy and cyber security. Each country is vulnerable to cyber attacks that could lead to war and given the relatively new nature of cyber security, international norms provide a strong basis upon which policies should be built.  It is also beneficial to combine cyber security skills with one’s allies in order to beef up offensive cyber capabilities. President Trump has cybersecurity high on his agenda, but the process of developing the best possible strategy is complex and time-consuming. Hopefully, the end product will be effective at providing the appropriate guidance for future actions of the U.S. in cyberspace.