Australia has to work together to stay ahead of cyber threats

By Steve Moros, Director of Cyber Security, Cisco Australia and New Zealand.

Credit: ID 17037453 © Andrey Pavlov | Dreamstime.com

Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing issues businesses face today, and in a complex environment with skills in short supply, we need to break down silos to move in the right direction. With the recent introduction of the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, businesses of all shapes and sizes now need to report any business data breaches to the Australian government. 

Security breaches costs to  Australian businesses are the highest in the Asia Pacific region (APAC).  52 per cent of Australian businesses claim breaches cost them between $1 - 5 million USD. In addition to the cost - it’s their reputation that is at risk, and more importantly the risk of their customer’s personal data being compromised.

Despite this, Cisco’s recent Asia Pacific Cyber Security Study states that over two thirds (69 per cent) of Australian businesses have admitted to experiencing cybersecurity fatigue, much higher than the global figure of 46 per cent. So why, when the stakes are so high for businesses, do some appear to have given up, and what needs to change?

Current environments cause complexity

Australia has one of the most complex technology landscapes in APAC; with 12 per cent of companies working with more than 50 security vendors.

The age-old saying ‘too much of a good thing’ runs true here. The more vendors that a business works with, the more complex the environment becomes, and this complexity hinders our ability to defend against threats.

A lack of integrated defense systems can lead to up to nearly half (49 per cent) of legitimate security threats not being identified and resolved. As a result, threats sit in business environments far longer than they should.

Consolidating vendors will help combat the problem by improving overall cyber security resilience such as  the ability to detect, remediate and protect the personal data of organisations and customers.

Skills shortage makes it harder to bridge the gap

The growing IT cybersecurity skills gap is another reason why Australia has become such a hotbed for cybersecurity attacks. With 81 per cent of Australian businesses experiencing over 5,000 attacks each day, across all industries - companies need to have a strong cybersecurity strategy and team in place if they are to have a chance at preventing the worst.

Every new security solution comes with a new management interface, which demands resources to manage it, install it, set policy, and respond to alerts. This puts a significant strain on resources, and there aren’t enough people in the market to support this complexity.

 The Australian Computer Society predicts that an additional 200,000 technology workers are needed in the next five years to become a global digital leader, however with less IT graduates’ year-on-year compared to jobs available; the gap is only widening.

Australia needs to make technology a more attractive career opportunity in order to bridge this gap. Working with industry and educational organisations, such as TAFE, to offer training in emerging markets such as security as well as understanding what businesses can do to help make the sector more appealing to all demographics, is crucial.

Breaking down the silos to be secure

The Asia Pacific Cyber Security Study highlighted the impact of cybersecurity breaches across Australia. With the cost of a single attack on an Australian business reaching up to $10 million USD - the impact is not only to the company, but to the Australian economy.

Working with cyber threat intelligence communities like Cisco Talos, which protects customers against known and emerging threats as well as identifying vulnerabilities in common software, is one way businesses can work to combat ever evolving cyber threats. 

For cyber protection to be most effective, there is a need for collaboration, particularly sharing information across threat intelligence platforms. Working together as a country to build trust is one of the most powerful ways Australia can combat the ever-growing, and changing demands of cybersecurity. There needs to be a joint effort from businesses, governments, organisations and educational institutes to tackle the problem head on.

Read more: Cisco patches: US-CERT warns attackers could take control of affected devices

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