Federal MPs have issued a strong warning over Australia's cybersecurity issues.

Opposition cybersecurity spokesperson Tim Watts and Home Affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally have launched a discussion paper examining Australia's cyber resilience.

It says that if a cyber virus wrought hit computer networks the same way as COVID-19 is hitting health systems, Australia would probably not cope.

“It is timely to ask; ‘Would Australia be prepared for a global malware pandemic? A computer COVID-19?’” they write in the paper launched at strategy think tank ASPI on Friday.

“There's reason to be concerned with the status quo.”

Australia suffers a persistent shortage of people with cybersecurity skills.

“People just don't have the time and money to spend on cybersecurity when they're trying to manage a business,” Mr Watts told reporters.

“Government's position shouldn't just be issuing warnings and then blaming the victim, government should get involved here and try to increase the overall safety of the internet for Australia.”

Experts say Australia will need an extra 17,000 cybersecurity people by 2026.

But it warns that a global cyber pandemic would create intense competition for hardware and “cybersecurity incident responders”.

“In such a contest, Australia would start from a position of acute disadvantage,” Mr Watts and Senator Keneally write.

They make a range of suggestions including the establishment of a Defence reservist squad of cybersecurity experts and moving to a model of active cyber defence.