Some are attempting to shut down power supplies or transport links in the virtual city. (ABC News: Matthew Doran)
Lego is normally associated with child’s play rather than cyber security, but more than 70 government and private sector hackers are currently bunkered down in Canberra attacking and defending a plastic brick city.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) is hosting a three-day event where teams of tech experts are surrounding “Shell Cove”, simulating how authorities may react if an Australian city was hit by a cyber attack.
It is the second year the event has been held with representatives from DHS, Home Affairs, Defence and agencies such as the Tax Office.
But this is the first time the private sector has been invited.
“We can’t fight cyber in isolation, in silos,” Narelle Devine, DHS chief information security officer, told the ABC.
“We need to make sure that we understand each other’s tactics, how we do things, what we’re good at, what we might not be good at, who’s on the other end of the phone in different operation centres around the country.
“What we see on any particular day, they might see as well. So it’s really important that we talk.”
Some of the hackers are working in teams to disrupt the activities of the brightly coloured utopian city of Shell Cove, attempting to shut down power supplies or transport links, while their counterparts work to defend the city.
“Every action on the keyboard has a potential impact on the moving parts to the Lego city,” Ms Devine said.
Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said Australia would continue to see an increase in cyber security threats.
“In theory it would be possible, of course, for people to close down the financial system, for people to close down our transport system, or any other ways that you could crash critical infrastructure in Australia,” Mr Keenan said.
“And we’ve got to make sure that our defences, in the same way as we defend against other threats, are the best in the world.
“I’m very satisfied that Australia is very good at this, I’m very satisfied that our agencies are very good at it, both the specialist agencies that deal in it but also agencies like my department that focus on cyber security.”