This opinion article by Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, was published in The Australian on 8 July 2015 under the title ‘Right Time for Cyber Summit’.
Today, Tony Abbott will chair a cyber summit to outline his vision of a stronger and more secure cyber future.
The Prime Minister will be joined by business leaders from many sectors of the Australian economy to discuss how government and business can collaborate to strengthen our economy and our national security by building greater resilience to cyber threats.
The Australian economy is being challenged by slower growth and disruptive business models.
Future economic growth hinges on our capacity to diversify our economy, and access new markets and new forms of wealth creation.
This diversification will be driven by innovation which, in turn, will be dependent on greater connectivity facilitated through digital technology.
The reality is that increased connectivity and rapid uptake of technology open up new avenues for crime, espionage and mistakes that carry significant risk. The threats from cyber attacks are real and they are serious. They take many forms, from crime to threats to our national security. All parts of the community are affected, from individuals to large and small businesses, and governments.
Because we all share the consequences of cyber crime, working together is critical.
Fighting cyber threats needs shared action so decision-makers in governments, businesses and the community broadly have the information they need to protect themselves and our country. This involves interdependent systems — economic, security, education, social — with action needed on all fronts.
To maximise the opportunities for Australia from digital technology, Abbott is working to get ahead of the associated risks through his review of Australia’s cyber security strategy.
The good news is that Australia is starting from a solid foundation. Our banks and telecommunications companies are among world leaders in cyber security. We are well placed to leapfrog strategies being trialled elsewhere.
The high-water mark is not what other countries are doing. But neither government nor business is in a position to do this on its own. They need to work together on equal terms. Businesses themselves will need to collaborate across all sectors of the economy if we are to improve national resilience.
A summit such as today’s cannot be viewed as a one-off. True collaboration on this issue will see our sectors meeting and communicating on a regular basis, sharing information and tracking outcomes.
It will also require investment in infrastructure and in people who are skilled in managing and thwarting cyber crime. This will create new opportunities for businesses, large and small.
Australia is well placed to succeed with an agile and transformative strategy and now is absolutely the right time to act on this. If we take action we can ensure that we are not only open for business but one of the most trusted business environments in the world.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on the review and the summit, which provide the opportunity for sectors to work together to get the best possible model in place.