Cyber Villains and Heroes: the quest for a cyber-secure future.
The Cyber Security Review, led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, found that cybercrime costs the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually. According to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small companies that sustain a cyberattack are out of business within six months[i]. Threats to businesses range from disruptions to operations, loss or damage of high-value data or hardware, breaches of sensitive information and damage to reputation, all of which can have significant and long-term impacts on a business.
Cyber criminals and their crimes are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with many hackers now seen as skilled professionals who sell their services to the highest bidder[ii]. As the landscape of cybercrime constantly evolves, so too must our response to effectively pre-empt cyber attacks and protect our businesses and data.
Joondalup is the location of several home-grown technology businesses which are now taking on national and global markets and one of the world’s top 10 cyber security research and education teams is based at the Joondalup Campus of Edith Cowan University (ECU).. Through a collaborative approach to tackling cyber security issues, anticipating and addressing the future skills shortage and protecting the whole value chain with a cyber secure approach, Joondalup has emerged as the hub of cyber security in Western Australia.
Working together across industry, academia and government
Research shows an increasing trend in cybercrime is location-based targeting[iii], namely targeting whole countries or regions with an attack. This is one reason why it is incumbent on all within a community to work together to tackle cybercrime and make Australian businesses a less attractive target.
The City of Joondalup, together with industry leaders including ECU, North Metropolitan TAFE (NMT) and local innovators such as SEQTA and Sapien Cyber (formerly SC8), are driving digital innovation and cyber security in the region. Boasting one of the largest concentrations of knowledge-based activity in Western Australia, the City continues to experience growth in education, research and development. .
$140 million is being invested by Federal and State governments, industry, university and research participants into a Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) headquartered at ECU within the Joondalup Innovation Hub. This significant investment brings together public, private and research sectors in cyber security and utilises facilities at ECU and throughout the Joondalup area.
The City’s Innovation Fund is an initiative that fosters innovative ideas and concepts that will contribute towards developing entrepreneurial and enterprising digital business activities in the City of Joondalup[iv]. The most recent grant of $15,000 was awarded to a project called ‘Cyber Me’; an innovative web-based, online teaching application that aims to keep young people safer in the online world.
Anticipating and addressing the skills shortage
It is estimated there will be a global shortfall of more than 1.5 million cyber security professionals around the world by 2020. With the soaring costs of cyber-crime threatening Australian and global businesses, the cyber security industry is set to replace the mining sector as the next jobs boom in Australia. It is critical that industry and training institutions work together now to address this growing threat.
With one of the longest-established cyber security courses in the country and one of only two Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence in Australia, ECU is leading the way in training future professionals to fill the global skills shortage, with ECU cyber security graduates going on to work in some of the world's leading tech companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft[v].
NMT has also consulted with industry to develop their Advanced Diploma of Network Security (CyberSecurity), with a subject dedicated to a CyberSecurity Project, planned to be conducted with industry as a “Live Works” exercise.
Protecting the whole value-chain
Joondalup has a diversity of talent and small and medium enterprises (SME’s), including locally-based ICT businesses with national and global clients, covering both front-end and back-end ICT products, servicing the entire value chain of a number of organisations.
Local edu-tech firm SEQTA has grown from a humble kitchen table start-up into a multi-award-winning software company. Today SEQTA provides more than 455 schools, 30,000 teachers and 245,000 students with instant online access to everything they need to effectively play their role in the school’s learning community and has recently expanded into South East Asia.
Another local company, Sapien Cyber, brings leading edge cyber security and threat intelligence solutions to Industrial Control Systems. According to Glenn Murray, CEO Sapien Cyber Limited, “The decision for Sapien Cyber to base our cyber security operations here in the City of Joondalup was a simple one. Our company’s research and development arm is powered by ECU’s world recognised cyber security expertise, led by Professor Craig Valli, and the City of Joondalup’s Digital City Strategy has assisted in attracting complementary cyber security focussed organisations such as the Cyber Security CRC and WA AustCyber node to Joondalup. The benefits of co-location and the ability to realise our projected growth alongside the City’s plans to become the WA capital of cyber security, makes this an ideal location for us”.
Businesses located in Joondalup and the surrounding region gain access to the State’s hub of homegrown heroes to help protect their vital assets, from hardware and infrastructure through to data and, critically, their brand and reputation.
As is often quoted; “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” and when it comes to keeping our communities and businesses cyber secure, that vigilance, foresight and proactive protection must come from a collaborative league of homegrown heroes.