Cybersecurity package must help businesses be more cyber aware

Friday, 07 August, 2020

Cybersecurity package must help businesses be more cyber aware

Australia’s peak industry body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has supported the Prime Minister’s new four-year cybersecurity strategy, designed to combat online fraudsters and empower businesses to be more cyber vigilant.

Entitled Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, part of the package allows small and medium-sized businesses to upgrade their cybersecurity and resilience — including an $8.3 million Cyber Security Connect and Protect Program, designed to offer tailored advice and assistance from trusted sources. The government also stated that they will work with large companies and service providers to provide small businesses with better information and resources such as threat blocking and antivirus training.

The strategy includes giving $66 million in funding to operators of critical infrastructure to assess their networks for vulnerabilities. These include power plants, communications and ports so they can better fend off serious cyber attacks.

“We support any measures, both strategically and investment-wise, that will help Australian businesses to become more cyber aware,” said Ron Gauci, AIIA CEO. “We know that critical infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for cybercrime. Operational technology used in critical infrastructure, manufacturing, sensors or building controllers traditionally operate on separate networks with different protocols. In recent years we have seen the line blurred with these devices becoming IP-enabled or connected to IoT-type devices.

“We appreciate that the Prime Minister has listened and understands the need to continue investment and support with cybersecurity — as evident by The Cyber Security Review, which was led by The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and highlighted that cybercrime is costing the Australian economy in excess of $1 billion annually in direct costs alone.

“Whilst the cybersecurity industry has long suffered a shortage of skills, there is an even larger gap of experts who understand the traditionally engineering focused domain of operational technology and cybersecurity,” he continued. “Australia is currently short of 2300 workers in cybersecurity, with an expected demand of at least 17,600 additional professionals required in the sector by 2026. We hope this investment and focus goes some way to addressing the gap.”

As detailed in a recent set of recommendations put to the Australian Government as part of the AIIA White Paper titled ‘Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World’, the AIIA put forward the following suggestions relating to cybersecurity:

  1. Secure remote working, access to secure infrastructure and robust business continuity solutions are key to supporting Australian businesses, and investment in these areas will also stimulate employment, particularly across technology innovators and incubation hubs.
  2. Extend Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security strategy to include cyber resiliency and enhance and promote support to Australian SMEs through cyber awareness and support programs and continue to invest in cybersecurity skills; in particular, the area of OT security.
  3. Improved governance and operational initiatives to strengthen the collaborative learning structure created through the national Joint Cyber Security Centres network to encourage knowledge transfer between government and industry around both cyber resiliency and cyber incidents and further extend this support to SMEs.
  4. That the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) continues to take a leadership role in advising and providing support on cybersecurity issues.
  5. Provide incentives to support small businesses to invest in cybersecurity upskilling and better promote available initiatives.

“Similar to the AIIA’s white paper recommendations, we are pleased that the paper goes beyond just cybersecurity and looks at the cyber resilience of industries which we support and think are vital,” Gauci continued. “Cybersecurity and cyber resilience of businesses are distinct concerns.

“The 2020 cyber strategy supports our recommendations that SMEs need greater awareness and understanding on cyber threats and there is an important role for government in this area which we will be pleased to support as a leading tech association.”

Image: ©ürgen Fälchle

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