PM Turnbull sees Australia as key player in global cybersecurity

According to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, Australia has a vital leadership role to play in solving global cybersecurity issues.

Speaking at the Australia-US Cyber Security Dialogue Center for Strategic and International Studies on 22 September 2016, the PM affirmed that cybercrime cost Asia Pacific more than AU$100 billion last year. That cost is one third higher than in other regions of the world.

Turnbull heralds the internet as, “… the most important piece of infrastructure ever created by mankind and yet it has not been created, as most infrastructure is, by governments.”

He went on to say that, while exciting, the digital age comes with mounting security responsibilities and that the US and Australia need to work together to effectively manage those responsibilities.

The PM shared a number of key ideas during his speech, as follows:

  1. Australia has the people and technology to help solve global problems

Turnbull believes that we already have the resources to help solve global problems. When you also consider that our cybersecurity sector could grow by more than 10 per cent year-on-year for the next five years as a minimum, our capacity to help will expand and our capabilities will deepen.

He says, “My objective is for Australia to become even better placed to use home-grown cyber security expertise to solve challenges and develop new business opportunities of global significance.”

  1. We cannot risk cyberattacks undermining consumer confidence

The cost of cyberattacks cannot be ignored. The costs are complex and not only limited to the loss of shareholder value. They put the economic benefits of online trade at risk, and undermine confidence and restrict our ability to leverage the digital economy.

“Denial of service, hacking, phishing and malware, are disruptive to our economies, our social interactions, and — through their unwavering persistence — our sense of security,” our PM says.

  1. We are already paying a high price

Cybercrime is prevalent in Australia. The Australian Government says, 33 per cent of businesses have experienced a cybercrime. The average cost of those crimes is AU$276,323.

Turnbull noted the loss experienced in Asia Pacific was higher than that experienced by either the EU or North America. Our PM referenced a study by Grant Thornton that counts the cost in Asia Pacific to be as high as US$81.3 billion in revenue.

Turnbull says, “Australia has an economic imperative to build regional capacity and to smooth the way for private sector involvement in self-sustaining economies. It’s also in our best interests to be a good global citizen and to promote an open and secure internet.”

  1. It’s time we worked as one

According to Turnbull, progressive nations know cybersecurity demands a united front. It requires not only industry, academia and government to work together, but nations to work together too.

“The challenges the internet faces are greater than can be solved by any of us alone,” he says.

  1. Do you know, who has access?

Turnbull wonders, “How aware are chief executives and directors of who have access, for example administrative privileges, over the network of their own business?”

According to our PM, it’s a necessity to know the name of your systems administrator. After all, they hold the keys to the most valuable vault in any company.

  1. Don’t leave it to IT

Cybersecurity is a matter of such significant importance it needs to be elevated to board level, and corporate sector and government level, and not just left to the responsibility of IT.

Our PM believes, leaders need to be convinced that cyber is one of their essential functions. Those same leaders must become cyber ambassadors.

The roles of Chief Information Security Officers and Chief Technology Officers need to valued, if, for no other reason, than because of the high business cost of a cyberattack.

“As we are all acutely aware, a cyberattack or data leak from even a mundane business system — like email — can have a dramatic impact on an enterprise,” the PM says.

  1. Speak the same language and talk about it

Security data can be complex. Sharing succinct information about it with CEOs and boards is not always easy, says Turnbull. Therefore, he considers it essential to increase the capacity for security staff to have conversations with senior management and other decision-makers. This has relevance to both responding to and reporting a cybersecurity incident.

One study showed that 80 per cent of organisations don’t make it a priority to share information with senior management about potential cyberattacks.

  1. Say what?

Turnbull appealed to academics to make cyber language clearer. He spoke of the recent confusion on Census night surrounding the ‘denial of service’ attack. There is also a need to communicate the significance of these events in such a way that it can be easily understood.

“We need to know collectively that a denial of service is equivalent to having a bus parked in your driveway so you can’t get your car out, that hacked data means someone broke into the garage and took the car, and that the solutions to these two things are very different,” he says.

  1. Share your knowledge

Many large enterprises are tech savvy. However, for every large enterprise there are many small businesses online. They are not necessarily as well resourced, some are less secure and others aren’t very tech savvy at all, Turnbull says.

“You would help secure the veracity of the internet, the integrity of the internet of each of the organisations here with an established Information Security Officer were to seek out a small or not-for-profit enterprise with which to share your knowledge,” he says.

  1. It’s a world of opportunity

Turnbull told the forum, the digital century will present some remarkable opportunities. He believes, how we respond to those opportunities, and to threatened and real cyberattacks, will define our future.

If you need any assistance with your cyber security strategy or any help around cyber security please call us on 1300 478 738 or email us at

About the Author

Geoff Stewart is a highly experienced and skilled Technology Director at Surety IT. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience having created customised, stable, well performing systems both for multi-national companies in the UK and Australia and Surety IT customers.

Surety IT can help you create the right system to enhance your business, ensuring you know how it is right for you and how to use it. We will tailor a solution to suit your needs with leading systems, local support and more, building your vision for a more flexible and capable business.

Call us today on 1300 478 738 or email to discuss your requirements.