Commonwealth Bank: Australia is well-positioned to be a leader in cyber

The GM of the yellow bank's cybersecurity centre wants the nation to take advantage of its current position, and export cyber talent and innovation to the rest of the world.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australia has the opportunity to take advantage of the current global climate and solidify itself as a leader in cybersecurity, according to Brendan Hopper, general manager of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's (CBA) cybersecurity centre.

Speaking at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and CommBank Australian Cybersecurity Education Summit on Friday, Hopper said it is possible right now for Australia to leverage a number of factors to become a better exporter of cyber talent and cyber innovation.

"We've got so many cyber people in Australia and we need to start sending them overseas, and we've got so many people doing good research that we start actually benefiting from innovation in cyber technology," he said.

"This might sound like a pipe-dream, but for example Israel has done this.

"Australia is actually really well positioned -- in my opinion -- to be able to do this."

See also: UNSW professor wants to see more 'rascals' taking up cyber

The first element helping Australia with this cause, according to Hopper, is the shift in the trust dynamic between people and organisations, and people and governments.

"People are starting to lose faith in institutions and things are starting to localise ... bans from using Chinese telco equipment on government networks in the US, pushing into Europe," he said, speaking directly to the ban against Huawei equipment.

Hopper said Australia is in a position to take advantage of the relative high-levels of trust it has, noting the nation is globally trusted to a level that not many other countries can say they are.

"You've never heard of equipment being banned from a network because it was made in Australia," he said.

The next element is the country's appetite for the adoption of new technology.

Pointing to CBA's own technology offerings, Hopper said the bank has seen Australians pick up technology quickly and the adoption rate of new features has been "dramatic".

See also: Global cybersecurity workforce gap hits 3m, APAC feels the biggest pinch (TechRepublic)

Finally, as a country known for its research, but not so much for its capacity to commercialise that research, Hopper said the conversation needs to change to how Australia can become a net exporter of cyber talent and cyber innovation from that research.

"We have foundations for cyber research in Australia ... we're in a really good position right now to be able to seize this opportunity," he said.

Hopper has been teaching cyber at UNSW for 10 years and working at CBA for seven. He doesn't actually have a cybersecurity-related degree or certification. He's a firm believer that cyber specialists shouldn't just be technical folk or those with computer science degrees.

"One of the things at CommBank -- I look after the cyber intel team, who are very focused on making sure that we collect information on what the bad guys on the internet are doing and we share it with our peer institutions, and the rest of the industry, so that everyone can make it as safe as possible," he explained.

"That doesn't require a huge depth of technical skills, it requires skills like social science, critical theory, all those kinds of things ... we're starting to see a need for people all the way along that spectrum and other specialities to overlap with cybersecurity."


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