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Is Australia cybersecure?

Is Australia cybersecure?

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Australia’s need to fill the workforce gap and other challenges. 

In this article: 

  • Outlook of the Current Status
  • Challenge No.1: the Workforce Gap
  • Other challenges to be ready for
  • Australia’s Future Goals


With our daily lives becoming more and more reliant on technology, whether you like it or not, you really can’t afford not being ‘cyber literate’

But what is ‘cyber literacy’ exactly? In simple terms, the ability to use computer technologies while understanding the implications of those actions and, most importantly, effectively protecting digital assets. 

Being able to handle digital assets securely is no longer only relevant for professionals working in the cyber security sector, but it is also becoming a must-have skill for every Australian worker in the digital age, regardless of occupation. 

According to AustCyber (the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network), “all Australian organisations that rely on the internet to conduct business today need a ‘cyber-literate’ workforce that can secure it against routine cyber risks. A robust education in cyber literacy is a foundation for workplace security, and several national initiatives are already helping to raise the cyber literacy of the broader workforce”.


OUTLOOK OF THE CURRENT STATUS

A recent global comparison of cyber security defences has placed Australia as the world’s 15th most-secure country. The research was conducted by Comparitech and evaluated 76 countries against a number of factors, including but not limited to percentage of mobiles infected by malware, prevalence of financial malware attacks  and percentage of computers infected by malware. 

While rising 12 positions from the previous year, Australia still found itself falling behind top ranked Denmark, Sweden, Germany and UK. 
This article from Cybernews states that over 500,000 small businesses in Australia are victims of cybercrime each year. The potential costs incurred by small and medium sized businesses go well into millions of dollars. These cybercrime statistics are especially worrying for new start-ups and companies as cyber-attacks become increasingly widespread and effective.

One of the most significant cyber-attacks occurred in early 2019, when the Australian Parliament was targeted during the lead up to a federal election, understandably raising serious concerns in Australia and the international community.

Is Australia cyber safe? Despite recent improvements, the answer is: still a lot of work to do to face the challenges.


CHALLENGE NO 1: THE WORKFORCE GAP

Latest data shows that Australia’s cybersecurity workforce is growing, however not at a fast enough pace to fill the substantial short-term demand for cyber security professionals. 



Also to be considered is the fact that - with businesses becoming increasingly digitised -  roles are becoming more and more diverse. It’s not one size fits all, on the contrary today cyber security comprises a variety of different roles ranging from architecture to operations and newer non-technical roles that incorporate elements of law, risk, communications and even psychology. Australia has not yet adopted a widely accepted skills framework to describe the various cyber security work roles.

Bottom line: the country may need around 16,600 additional cyber security workers for technical as well as non-technical positions by 2026.


OTHER CHALLENGES TO BE READY FOR

Unfortunately, the workforce gap is not the only challenge we are faced with. AustCyber has identified other poignant challenges, requiring careful consideration in the aim of a cyber-safer Australia: 

  • A lack of focus in research and commercialisation - Our public spending on cyber security R&D is considerably behind compared to other cyber nations (such as the US and Israel), while innovative ideas and cyber products struggle with commercialisation due to lack of early-stage venture capital.
  • Barriers to growth and export for smaller local cyber security providers - complex procurement processes in the public and private sector prevent smaller suppliers of cyber security services from scaling their operations
  • A lack of robust measurement of the sector’s development and economic impact limits the ability to track progress


AUSTRALIA'S FUTURE GOALS

​On 6 August 2020, the Australian Government released The Australian Cyber Security Strategy 2020. 

The Australian Cyber Security Strategy 2020 will invest $1.67 billion over 10 years to achieve the vision of creating a more secure online world for Australians, their businesses and the essential services upon which we all depend. 
In a nutshell, the strategy is framed around the following five key pillars: 

  1. Deterrence (deterring malicious actors from targeting Australia)
  2. Prevention (preventing people and sectors in Australia from being compromised online)
  3. Detection (identifying and responding quickly to cyber security threats)
  4. Resilience (minimising the impact of cyber security incidents)
  5. Investment (investing in essential cyber-security enablers)

What is your view of the cyber threat environment?  What role should the Government play in addressing the most serious threats to institutions and businesses located in Australia?

Share your views! 




Resources used: 
https://www.austcyber.com/resources/sector-competitiveness-plan/chapter3 
https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about-us/our-portfolios/cyber-security/strategy
https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/reports-and-pubs/files/cyber-security-strategy-2020-discussion-paper.pdf
https://ia.acs.org.au/article/2020/australia-shoots-up-in-cybersecurity-rankings.html#:~:text=A%20new%20global%20comparison%20of,still%20don't%20understand%20security. 
https://cybernews.com/security/australias-cybersecurity-landscape/