In Australia, there is one cybercrime every seven minutes

Australia has updated its national cybersecurity policy – with SME protection made a $63 million priority. Source: Shutterstock

Australia outlines a new cybersecurity plan worth $65M

  • After years of heightened concerns surrounding cybersecurity, Australia has updated its national cybersecurity policy – with SME protection a $63 million priority

Cybersecurity has become a hot-button topic in Australia in recent years, with increased scrutiny surrounding cyberattacks, particularly those taking aim at Australian businesses.

Less than two years ago, a Cisco report found that 81% of Aussie companies faced more than 5,000 threats per day, while a third (33%) experienced anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 threats every single day.

Not only was this a higher rate of attack than other countries in Asia Pacific (APAC) at the time, but the same report noted that the cost of a data breach is highest in Australia as well, with 52% of local enterprises reporting that an attack had cost them between USD$1 to US$5 million.

And that was before pandemic-related restrictions this year brought out the worst in some bad actors, with cybersecurity threats shooting up across the country, highlighting just how integral proper cybersecurity awareness and protection would be, especially for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) which could stand to lose the most with lax online protection.

Fortunately for Australians, the federal government has been aware of the precarious state of cybersecurity knowledge in the country for some time now, and in the past has offered training on cybersecurity for SMEs as well as drawing up the AU$230 million (approx. US$165 million) 2016 Cyber Security Strategy framework, in the interests of protecting Australia’s businesses and community from virtual threats.

After much delay, the government has finally unveiled its updated national cybersecurity strategy, which will see AU$1.67 billion (US$1.2 billion) in spend into a coterie of previously announced cybersecurity initiatives, setting forth a 10-year enhanced cyber protection and awareness scheme.

Entitled Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, some of the core elements include proposed laws and an “enhanced regulatory framework” to secure critical infrastructure, deemed the “best way to protect Australians at scale.”

No doubt in response to the recent spate of allegedly state-sponsored cyberattacks targeting critical government infrastructure and private businesses, the national strategy further outlines an “enforceable positive security obligation for designated critical infrastructure entities.”

“These powers will ensure the Australian Government can actively defend networks and help the private sector recover in the event of a cyberattack,” the strategy elaborates.

The 2020 strategy also goes into detail on the government’s plan to allocate AU$63.4 million (approx. US$45.4 million) to provide assistance to help Australian SMEs upgrade their cybersecurity protection to cover the latest cyber threat landscape.

One of the endeavors will involve larger-scale enterprises and security solutions providers supplying pre-packaged bundles of cybersecurity solutions including threat blocking and antivirus software, along with necessary training regiments. According to the strategy outline, “Integrating cybersecurity products into other service offerings will help protect SMEs at scale and recognizes that many businesses cannot employ dedicated cybersecurity staff.”

The federal government will also “provide online training and a 24/7 helpdesk for SMEs that needs cybersecurity advice or assistance” – recognizing that the threat landscape is constantly evolving and that constant updating of security tools and knowledge will be necessary.