Cyber Security – not just for nerds but for the nation

Today, I attended the launch, by the Prime Minister of the Federal Government’s Cyber Security Strategy. This heralds a new era of cyber security in Australia which recognises the need for a close partnership between the government and the private sector.

The strategy sets out a bold vision for our country’s approach to this very real 21st century challenge.

The reported breach of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology computer systems in December last year brought cyber security clearly into the public psyche and the vulnerability of even our most robust systems.

The genuine investment and a drive to implement the initiatives announced today will see Australia move back up the global cyber pecking order. This is the sort of clear leadership and vision that has been missing from Australia’s cyber security landscape. Contrasting with the focus and funding given by governments in the US, Israel and UK, cyber security in Australia has suffered from a lack of political priority and coordinated investment.

It is clear from today’s launch there is now strong commitment from the government at its highest level. This personal leadership at the political level is essential to achieve the necessary step-change in Australia. However, what the Prime Minister also asked for is leadership and action from the private sector. This partnership will be vital to success.

KPMG has long been an advocate of cyber security being a risk for the boardroom, not just in the basement. It is positive that after a slow start, executive boards of an increasing number of private and public sector organisations have started to take a more active interest in their cyber challenges and opportunities.

But the very nature of this technology-enabled global phenomenon is that neither the challenges nor the opportunities stand still for very long. Cyber security does not reward complacency. As has been championed in the strategy through the ASX 100 Health Check initiative and the creation of a new voluntary standard, there is a need for all organisations to understand their vulnerabilities and take action to achieve a higher standard of cyber defence.

The five tiered plan will continue to build a national partnership between government and business. The actions are:

  1. A national cyber partnership: governments, business and the research community must work together to advance Australia’s cyber security.
  2. Strong cyber defences: Australia’s networks and systems must be hard to compromise and resilient to cyber attack.
  3. Global responsibility and influence: Australia actively promotes an open, free and secure cyberspace.
  4. Growth and innovation: Australian businesses have the confidence, trust and assurance to grow and prosper through cyber security innovation.
  5. A cyber smart nation: Australians with the cyber security skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital age.

But today’s strategy announcement is not all about risks. It spoke of the jobs potential and growth opportunities for a domestic cyber security industry. This is a large and growing market that Australia is exceptionally well positioned to capitalise on with one of the most exciting areas of growth and innovation in the burgeoning fintech sector.

The release of the Cyber Security Strategy today is cause for some genuine excitement, not only for the nerds but for the nation. The task now is to make the most of the opportunity.

Read more about our views on the need for a government-business partnership on cyber-security in Cyber Security: Designing a business-government partnership in Australia.

Mark Tims

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