Breaking the cyber cycle

Breaking the cyber cycle
Breaking the cyber cycle - iStock

Australian businesses need a major shift in their attitudes towards cyber security, according to ANU’s National Security College senior adviser Michelle Price.

The Australian government has taken note of the projected $17 billion annual loss to the country’s bottom line due to malicious cyber attacks, investing heavily in Defence’s future Cyber capabilities in the 2016 Defence White Paper.

As the leader of the team that wrote the Prime Minister’s Cyber Security Strategy (2016), Price told Defence Connect that Australians in general need to raise their “care factor” about cyber security and the threats it poses to our national economy, business and way of life.

Price stated that without a shift in their attitudes towards cyber security, many Australian businesses will not survive the coming decade.

“That’s just as relevant to government agencies as it is to private sector organisations,” she said.

“We’ve already seen what happened with [the 2016] census. That’s not to say that the Bureau of Statistics is about to go out of business, but certainly their reputation has taken a significant hit as a result of that.

“This is one of the great challenges for the 21st century, and it’s not just for government and it’s not just for the IT folks.

“It’s been proven the world over how much can be taken from your future growth prospects not just when our IP [intellectual property] is stolen, but also when money is just being bled out of our economy,” Price said.

This in turn will affect “the breadth and depth of jobs that can be offered to your society”, she added.

Price is adamant that without a course correction and increased “care factor” about cyber security, future generations will suffer the most.

“Our children and children’s children will never know a world that doesn’t have computers in it, and in fact, our grandchildren will never know a world without mobile devices in it. Desktops will become one of those things a bit like a typewriter [was] for our grandparents.

“So, this stuff is really transforming the way our world works.

According to Price, Australians are early adopters of new technology, which quickly becomes embedded into daily life.

She believes that it will take significant campaigns by the government but, as they have done before, Australians will change their behaviour to become more cyber security-conscious.

“We saw it years ago with the ‘Click, clack front and back’ campaign and the ‘Life. Be in it’ campaign,” Price said. “After a prolonged campaign, change became systemic. Slowly most people began to change their behaviour. And we need to change our behaviour now.

“We can’t expect that the products and services that we buy are secure. Most of them are being imported, so we can’t just expect our devices are secure. We have to be actively engaged in the security.

Price noted that Australians should be more proactive in selecting the security apps we download and the devices we buy.

“We just need to care about it a lot more,” she said. “It needs to become second nature.”  

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