Collaboration will help combat cybersecurity: David Thodey

CSIRO and JobsNSW chair David Thodey has highlighted that cybersecurity is a whole-of-industry problem that needs to be addressed by both enterprises and startups.

Cybersecurity is high on the list of many executive boards, according to CSIRO and JobsNSW chair David Thodey, who believes a key solution to combating the problem is for startups and enterprises to collaborate.

"Enterprises are struggling to keep up with this topic. We're all in the same boat, and so we don't have an option but to collaborate," he said.

Speaking at the National Fintech Cyber Security Summit in Sydney on Tuesday, Thodey said cybersecurity is a whole-of-industry problem that needs to be solved; otherwise, the price companies will have to pay may be detrimental.

"Not just financially, but reputationally. Look at what happens when a network goes down: You could lose everything good you've done, and if you're a small startup your reputation is just as important as a big corporation, so this is really important," he said.

The former Telstra chief executive went on to say the recipe to a "true collaboration" between enterprises and startups is that they need to have a shared problem, ambition, and target, as well as complementary skills.

"If you don't have those four things, you could talk about collaboration all you like, but it just doesn't happen," he said.

At the same time, Thodey highlighted that businesses also need to start partnering at an R&D level to improve Australia's global collaboration position.

The remarks by Thodey followed the comments shared by Stone & Chalk CEO Alex Scandurra, who proposed that cybersecurity discussions will help large organisations and local startups come together.

"What we're proposing to do is to create a joint cybersecurity innovation program where we bring the two sides of the market together," Scandurra said during the National Fintech Cyber Security Summit.

"We have an opportunity to bring large organisations, including government, to represent the demand side of the equation, and to surface those opportunities and those problems to be solved, and then bring the supply side of the market -- which are top researchers and research organisations like Data 61, and some of our key universities together with top startups and innovative talent -- to create and commercialise that very same IP the big end of town is looking for and is ready to consume."

Similarly, Data61 CEO Adrian Turner, who was recently appointed as co-chair of the Cyber Security Growth Centre, said there is tremendous opportunity to build a "vibrant" security industry domestically.