Phone network risks set to be profiled

The resilience of the nation's phone networks will be put under the microscope in a world-first study led by the Australian National University.

The university will be mapping threats to the telecommunications network, seeking to ensure it's capable of standing up to cyber attacks and natural disasters.

Led by the ANU's Tech Policy Design Centre, the project will get input from industry, government, utility providers, emergency services and emergency management workers among others to build a profile of what challenges are facing the network.

The university recently revealed some six million Australian adults had been hit by a data breach in the last year.

ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said it was vitally important Australia's telecommunications network is able to hold up in the face of pressure.

"Telecommunications drives economic growth, national productivity and innovation and keeps Australians connected to each other and the world," Professor Schmidt said.

"The 2019-20 bushfires, the pandemic, floods and cyber incidents are just a few examples of recent events that have tested the resilience of the sector ... by studying risks at the sector level, this project will equip future decision-makers with tools to design effective policy."

Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said the telco sector was taking its responsibility to face such challenges seriously.

"Australia's communications networks have stood up well to the unprecedented challenges thrown at them in recent years by natural and malevolent threats," he said.

"Telco carriers have strengthened key network infrastructure and back-up capabilities and improved coordination with emergency authorities and key stakeholders such as the energy industry."