Australian cyber threat to the private sector

Cyber Threat

The Cyber Threat to Australian Business may be larger than first thought with many Australian businesses refusing to report breaches due to concerns the disclosure may adversely affect their reputation or create legal or commercial liabilities.

In the second of the Australian Cyber Security Centres cyber threat report

Extract from  ACSC Threat Report 2016:

Australian industry is persistently targeted by a broad range of malicious cyber activity, risking the profitability, competitiveness and reputation of Australian businesses. The spectrum of malicious cyber activity ranges from online vandalism and cybercrime through to the theft of commercially sensitive intellectual property and negotiation strategies.

The ongoing theft of intellectual property from Australian companies continues to
pose significant challenges to the future competitiveness of Australia’s economy. In
particular, cyber espionage impedes Australia’s competitive advantage in exclusive
and profitable areas of research and development – including intellectual property
generated within our universities, public and private research firms and government
sectors – and provides this advantage to foreign competitors.

The ACSC’s visibility of cyber security incidents affecting industry and critical infrastructure networks is heavily reliant on voluntary self-reporting.
Some companies may be hesitant to report incidents to the government due to concerns the disclosure may adversely affect their reputation or create legal or commercial liabilities. For example, in some cases victim organisations have sought legal advice before reporting an incident.

Many cyber security incidents across the private sector are undetected or unreported. Increased reporting of cyber security incidents by the private sector would subsequently increase the ACSC’s knowledge of cyber adversaries who target Australian industry and critical infrastructure, and the methods they employ. This knowledge would further enable the development of cyber security advice and mitigation strategies.

The ACSC is making a dedicated effort to engage industry on cyber threats and associated mitigation strategies through a process of sustained engagement. However, the private sector’s ability and willingness to recognise the extent of the cyber threat and to implement mitigation strategies varies considerably across and within sectors. Generally, companies that have been extensively targeted or compromised are more likely to view the business risks associated with the cyber threat as sufficient to warrant investment in cyber security.

Those without direct experience of being targeted or a victim may not be aware of the potential economic harm malicious cyber activity can cause their businesses, do not
understand the value of the data they hold, and cannot conceive why they would be targeted.


Australian Cyber Threat

Between July 2015 and June 2016, CERT Australia responded to 14,804 cyber security incidents affecting Australian businesses

Between July 2015 and June 2016, CERT Australia responded to 14,804 cyber security incidents affecting Australian businesses, 418 of which involved systems of national interest (SNI) and critical infrastructure (CI).

CERT Australia relies heavily on the voluntary self-reporting of cyber security incidents from a wide variety of sources throughout Australia and internationally and therefore does not have a complete view of incidents impacting Australian industry.


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