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NAB stands up enterprise security team and appoints new security chief

David Fairman will be focused on combining physical and cyber security at the bank.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has recently appointed a new chief security officer, standing up an enterprise security team under his leadership that covers physical, cyber, investigations, and fraud.

Joining NAB around two months ago, and reporting directly to chief technology and operations officer Patrick Wright, David Fairman has accountability for establishing the vision, strategy, and programs to protect NAB's people, customers, information assets, and technologies.

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From Brisbane originally, Fairman left Australia just over 13 years ago to pursue a bunch of roles at banks around the world, including with the Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan, and Canada's RBC.

After starting his career in electronic warfare with the Royal Australian Air Force, Fairman has also worked for Dimension Data and New Zealand telco Spark.

Speaking with ZDNet, Fairman said his focus at NAB is to pull together the cybersecurity function, fraud function, investigations function, and physical security function into one.

"That integrated model -- the converged model -- really resonated with me. It's very much what I've seen from my experience, particularly in the European banks ... They've been operating that way for 10-15 years, if not longer," he explained.

"To be able to come back to Australia with NAB being the first in Australia to do this, is quite an exciting opportunity to help NAB lead not just the banking sector, but the broader community and other sectors in terms of how we really need to start thinking about security in the digital economy."

Fairman said traditional fraud has been constantly decreasing -- at least from the physical bank robbery days -- but cybercrime is "ramping up".

"That's just the nature of digitisation and that digital economy, because that is how money is moved throughout the system these days, so if you think about the way the defences, the threats, and the controls that we put in place for information security and cybersecurity, there's a lot of synergies there and a lot of areas that complement each other -- particularly in the fraud space and also in the physical security space," he explained.

"If you think of physical security it's about securing those digital assets as well. From a fraud perspective it's really about knowing that customer, so knowing who you're talking to ... and we do that very strongly in the traditional information security space as well, so there's a lot of synergies there, particularly with the expanse of online banking, as one example."

In delivering its 2017 financial results in November, NAB announced it was planning on cutting a total of 4,000 jobs from its workforce. 6,000 roles were impacted as the bank "further automates and simplifies" its business and 2,000 new jobs were created as a result of the restructure.

A week later, the bank unveiled its plans to begin immediately hiring more staff, telling ZDNet it would be seeking 600 technology specialists spanning software engineering, data, architecture, and cybersecurity.

The recruitment drive is part of NAB's plan to reshape its workforce and create up to 2,000 new jobs by 2020.

Fairman said part of blending the security-based teams is to figure out the appropriate organisation structure, and to see where certain skillsets overlap.

"Some of the cyber people that we have live and breathe fraud because that is some of the threats and challenges that we have, and some of our fraud specialists, given the nature of fraud these days, are very, very strong cyber specialists, so how do we leverage that talent within the organisation and pull together and organisation structure that really creates those synergies and realises those benefits," Fairman told ZDNet.

Speaking of Fairman's appointment, Wright said it was important NAB continued to evolve its approach to security as society changes.

"As the world constantly evolves, unfortunately, so too does the sophistication of the way criminals act and we must constantly look for ways to improve, to deepen our perspective on security, to protect our people and our customers," he added.

"We know how much trust our people and our customers place in us to protect them and their information and we don't take that for granted."

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