Why cyber education is as important as sex education

Cyber education, like sex education, is the basis for a safe, secure approach to life. A provocative statement I know – but so true. 

I welcome the Australian Government’s new Cyber Security Strategy – it has set our priorities well …

Setting the tone at the top

When Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull launched the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy on 21 April he did so with a roundtable of CEOs and important leaders, including our own Deloitte Australia CEO Cindy Hook.

From my perspective, having worked in the space for many years internationally and now with the Australian government, businesses and regulators over the past 18 months, this public announcement means cyber security is all systems go.

We can all pull together to start quickly acting on our parts of the agreed five strategic cyber security pillars, knowing we have the additional $230 million investment the Prime Minister announced to support us.

Going deeper on fewer and more targeted initiatives will help make a difference. Too often policy makers globally try and cover all the hundreds of things clamouring for attention in the cyber security space, and floundered by spreading resource too thinly. Through collaboration, leadership awareness and commitment, government, business and academia will be able to focus resources on actions that will make an impact.

It is a smart move and increases the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Growth, innovation and jobs

Three of the most important pillars are around growth, innovation, and nurturing home-grown expertise to generate jobs. With these initiatives we will build a cyber-smart nation and be well positioned to enable Australia to lead cyber innovation and resilience in the Asia Pacific region.

We know how critical it is to boost jobs and skills in the cyber security space. At Deloitte we have created more than 100 jobs in Australia in this sector in the past 18 months.

And back to my provocative start – so important at the schoolkids level. Given that very young children are working on iPads in school  – cyber education and becoming cyber aware as to how to be safe and stay cyber secure from the get go is not just a nice to have but a must have.

When the PM announced the cyber security strategy, he pointed out that almost one million Australians have been victims of identity theft online in 2014. And we know from our Cyber Intelligence Centre network and particularly our local Australian centre that this is a very conservative estimate.

As the Hon Malcolm Turnbull emphasised, where attacks continue to become more sophisticated and severe, voluntary breach notification to customers and regulators is critical.

We wholeheartedly support this call to action. The more we know about the threats that businesses are facing, the better we can get at helping pre-empt them.


Cyber governance health checks create great awareness

I’m also very pleased to see the initiative to introduce cyber security governance health checks for business. Over a three year period I delivered 92 annual cyber security governance health checks in the UK to the largest FTSE350 companies. These health checks definitely worked to help raise the bar for cyber security in the UK. So it’s good to see Australia proposing a similar approach and not reinventing the wheel.

One of the biggest issues in making organisations and the general public more cyber secure is lack of awareness. Customers and companies are simply not aware of how vulnerable they are to cyber attacks, and how much damage can be done. We will absolutely work hard with government and its agencies to raise cyber education through national awareness of cyber risks and benefits.

And the 21 April announcement was a great step in the right direction.

Cyber risks are not an IT problem. They are both a business problem and an opportunity.  

The successful implementation of the key initiatives in the cyber strategy, supported by the additional spend of $230 million, will raise the bar so that Australia is a more secure, vigilant and resilient nation than today. We need to make sure we all get involved and work together to make this happen.

We know that confidence creates growth and being safe and cyber secure as we manage the cyber risks we are all facing – as individuals and organisations – will help us grow with confidence.



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