AustCyber says digital trust required to boost Aussie economy

A globally competitive Australian cybersecurity sector will ultimately underpin the future success of every industry in the national economy, the non-profit's CEO has said.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Fresh from Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling Australians the country was under attack from an unnamed state actor and pledging AU$1.35 billion to boost local cybersecurity capabilities, AustCyber has touted the importance of digital trust in securing the nation's economy.

AustCyber is a non-profit organisation charged with growing a local cybersecurity ecosystem and facilitating its global expansion.

"Australia's digital infrastructure and the data it carries are core to the value and growth of the nation's economy," AustCyber CEO Michelle Price said in Australia's Digital Trust Report 2020.

"The growing economic dependency on the digital domain has an intrinsic relationship with the trust users and consumers have in it and therefore the security, privacy, and resilience of the infrastructure and data."

According to Price, a globally competitive Australian cybersecurity sector will ultimately underpin the future success of every industry in the national economy.

The report [PDF], released on Monday, explains digital trust as the level of confidence users have in the ability of technology to "enable a high functioning cyber-physical world". AustCyber said it is earned by providing secure, private, safe, and reliable access to technology, as well as the ways in which technology has been designed, constructed, and delivered.

It said cybersecurity is a foundational pillar of digital trust in the economy.

AustCyber said digital activity currently contributes AU$426 billion to the Australian economy, and generates AU$1 trillion in gross economic output.

It also said a four-week digital interruption to Australia's economy, such as a widespread cyber attack, would cost the Australian economy up to AU$30 billion or 1.5% of Australia's GDP, and over 163,000 jobs.

Offering suggestions on how to boost local cybersecurity capability, AustCyber said more is needed by governments and industry, asking they use sovereign cybersecurity products and services, as part of the current focus on digital transformation; increase investment into Australia's cybersecurity sector; and work together to develop a culture and reputation for high "digital trust" in Australia to attract sustained investment and drive jobs growth.

The report also modelled the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian economy with a specific focus on overall digital activity, consumer behaviour, and digital infrastructure. It said total positive economic revenue impact is expected to be up to AU$230 billion in the digital activity, online retail, and IT industry sectors, resulting in a GDP gain of up to AU$91 billion per annum for 2021 and 2022. AustCyber added that the job benefit impact is expected to be up to 505,700 per year.

Later on Monday, Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Tim Watts offered his take on AustCyber's report, saying the government is failing to provide the leadership needed to address the threat of cybersecurity incidents.

"This isn't just a job for our defence and security agencies. In an interconnected and interdependent economy, we can only confront this growing threat by building resilience throughout the nation, in businesses big and small and across all levels of government," Watts said.

"To do this requires leadership -- but the first decision Scott Morrison made upon becoming Prime Minister was to abolish the dedicated ministerial role for cybersecurity. It was a disastrous decision that has left cybersecurity policy politically orphaned."

Updated Monday 13 July 2020 at 4:00pm AEST: Added comments from Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Tim Watts.


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