24 June, 2021

Opening remarks from CEO Rosemary Sinclair AM at the 2021 State of the Nation forum in Canberra, hosted by CEDA, where she facilitated a panel discussion between Home Affairs Minister, The Hon. Karen Andrews MP, the Commonwealth Bank’s Chief Information and Security Officer Keith Howard and AustCyber’s CEO Michelle Price on the topic "Risk and opportunity – how do we get the cyber balance right?"   

Today, much of our day-to-day business interactions and social engagement is conducted online. We know that cyber security is critically important to ensure the privacy of our information and intellectual property and ensure our businesses and social activities are not interrupted by “bad actors” with nefarious intentions. 

I would ask you now to pause, and cast your mind back 15 years, to the way you conducted your business and social life in the mid-2000s. Corporations were doing away with their typing pools and offices were becoming more connected. Facebook was two years old. Twitter was two months old. Instagram and TikTok did not exist. But as business and personal information moved online, and our businesses grew more connected, so too did identity and intellectual property theft increase. 

Since that time, and as our economy has become increasingly inter-connected, cyber criminals have only become more sophisticated.

At auDA, we know this all too well – we monitor online trends, including business registrations and cyber threats closely. Over the last 15 months we have seen an incredible surge in businesses moving online as their face-to-face business opportunities were restricted – total .au domains registered with auDA grew by nearly 160,000. Indeed, COVID was the crisis we did not wish to have but it has been the catalyst for great digital transformation.

The flip side to this, however, is that we have also seen an increase in online crime – the ACSC’s annual report highlighted that a cybercrime is reported every 10 minutes. And that is why cyber security is such a critical issue for us all.

The decentralised and distributed nature of the Internet of course means that cyber threats here, may come from elsewhere, and that information created here may be stored on servers overseas or digitally transmitted across multiple borders at once. The reality is the threat posed from cyber crime is not unique to any one business or any one nation. Managing it well will take a sustained and multi-stakeholder effort.

As a starting point, we need to see cyber security as a key topic of conversation in board rooms and at Cabinet meetings across the country. And secondly, we must see Australian business, government and law enforcement work together to combat the risks and also to seize the opportunities presented by this growing field of cyber security.

We are heading down the right track and I am personally looking forward to many more productive conversations about how this can progress.
Starting right here, with this panel, today.