Cyber Security Strategy

21 April 2016

This opinion article by Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia was published on The Australian Financial Review website on 21 April 2016.

Embracing the possibilities created by digitisation and connectivity in all aspects of our lives is essential for Australia to keep pace with competition from around the world.

If we want to grow our economy to continue to provide jobs and opportunities in a competitive and changing world we have to be a connected, digitised economy.

Digital transformation brings enormous opportunities to expand our markets, create new industries and develop new skills and capabilities to take on the world’s best.

Already a small business based in Sydney selling swimwear can compete with hundreds of businesses around the world to sell their products to global consumers at the click of a button.

Digitisation is changing the world of work for millions of Australians too, whether it’s using hand-held devices to improve productivity for jobs that once had no computers in sight, or hospitals and doctors sharing patient information to improve health services to people all over the country.

Improvements in the use of ‘big data’ to extract unique insights of customers, and  the computerisation of so much around us - the ‘internet of things’ - will harvest massive amounts of information. When this is shared, it will enhance a customer’s experience with the connected world.   

The possibilities in this world are truly endless, but our ability to thrive in the digital economy relies on us trusting the security of the connections we make with businesses, and people, nationally and globally.

This is why Australia needs a cyber security strategy that builds capability and resilience to support the transition underway in the economy.

The government’s new Cyber Security Strategy, released yesterday, shows that all organisations, no matter how large or small, face cyber risks and our supply chains locally and with the rest of the world are only as strong as the weakest link.

For that reason, developing cyber security capabilities and skills will be one of the defining characteristics of Australia staying strong in an increasingly digitised world.

A cyber security capability is as important to our nation now as the ships and planes which patrol our borders.

Attempts to access our critical data and online networks are real, and are increasing in size and frequency, making co-operation between government and business in Australia to thwart these threats absolutely vital. 

I have had the privilege of being on the government’s expert panel on cyber security and I am proud to say the unprecedented level of cooperation between business and government on this issue gives Australia a great opportunity to seize a genuine comparative advantage in cyber capability.

The release of the government’s Cyber Security Strategy represents a year’s work between business and government to forge a powerful partnership that sends a signal to the world that we are a trusted and secure place to do business in this new digitised world.

It is about ensuring Australia remains an open economy where data can be shared securely, and where the use of best practise systems and processes in the online world are a defining quality of our major businesses.

Australians can have confidence that our businesses are alive to these issues and many of them have comprehensive strategies to protect against cyber threats.

Our businesses are already global leaders in this space. Our banks, our infrastructure operators, our retailers, and our telecommunications companies are all leaders in cyber security.

Australian businesses are way out in front, and have been extending their world-leading culture of safety in the workplace to safety online. Businesses are ready to collaborate with government and research institutions 

to improve on existing practices, and improve standards that set a higher benchmark than is required by regulation.

The Cyber Security Strategy takes our national cyber capability to the next level.

Through our unified and coordinated approach to protecting the nation’s interests government and business in Australia will make cyber security capability a trusted guardian of an innovative, and competitive digital economy.



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