The Bureau of Meteorology is working on integrating an upgrade to its HPC infrastructure into a major multi-year ICT transformation program that is intended to deliver a significant boost to information security at the agency.
The Bureau is in the second year of the five-year ‘ROBUST’ program: An effort to improve the security of infrastructure, applications and processes at the Bureau, as well as the resilience of the Bureau’s weather observations network.
In its annual report, the Bureau said that the mid-term upgrade project for its supercomputer and supporting infrastructure projects that are part of the second tranche of ROBUST are “working in tandem to establish an operational HPC environment” in the agency’s new data centre.
Funding for ROBUST was originally allocated as part of the 2017-18 federal budget. The first tranche of the program included projects covering end-user compute, capacity management capability, and policy, process and governance.
A second tranche of funding for the program was included in the 2018-19 budget. That funding would be “partially offset by ceasing planned expenditure on the Bureau’s ICT capital projects which are no longer required due to the broader investment in the Bureau’s ICT,” 2018-19 budget documents stated.
“The investment will assist the Bureau to deliver critical services across the Australian economy, including to the aviation, emergency services, agriculture and defence sectors. This will enable the Bureau to continue to provide reliable, ongoing access to weather, climate, water and oceans information, and will improve the Bureau’s digital offerings to the Australian public.”
As of May 2019, $41.2 million and $18.8 million had been spent on the first and second tranches, respectively, with another $20 million committed to ROBUST initiatives.
The program followed then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in April 2016 revealing that the Bureau had suffered a “significant cyber intrusion”. In December 2015, a report claimed that the Bureau had suffered a “major cyber attack” and that remediating affected systems was expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Bureau said that during 2018-19 it carried out a number of projects under the ROBUST banner, including launching a new security training module for staff along with an acceptable use of ICT resources police and an online policy portal.
It also “implemented a major software technology upgrade to uplift data security across the organisation”, improved security analytics, and rolled out two-factor authentication and an upgrade to Windows.