Macquarie University, Optus to Open Cybersecurity HubCollaborative Project Will Focus on Research, Training
Australia estimates that cybercrime costs the country at least AU$1 billion (U.S. $717 million) per year. But the real figure could be as high as $17 billion, in line with estimates that put cybercrime at 1 percent of a country's GDP.
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Those figures are, in part, why Australia has put cybersecurity near the top of its agenda. In April, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a $230 million investment over the next four years into strengthening the country's cybersecurity defenses and nurturing new businesses and research.
Other initiatives are afoot as well. On May 30, Macquarie University - one of the nation's largest universities - said it will join telecommunications company Optus Business to create a cybersecurity hub dedicated to research and consulting. The two will invest $10 million over the next seven years.
While there is growing awareness in companies of cyber issues, the threat is underappreciated, says David Wilkinson, deputy vice chancellor for corporate engagement and advancement at Macquarie University.
"Clearly big companies can or at least should have a great capability to address this stuff, but the more I talk to many of these big companies, they're really struggling to get a grip on it because the threats come from so many angles," Wilkinson says.
For small- to medium-sized companies, cybersecurity often isn't on the radar. "Many of these companies are so small, and it's just not a high priority for them," Wilkinson says. "But the truth is, they're all really vulnerable."
The project will look at how cybercrime is conducted and its effect on Australia's economy and policies. It will have a strong education emphasis, with degree programs, short courses for businesses, training and cyber awareness events.
Wilkinson says the project will have a multidisciplinary approach, linking computer science experts with those who have business expertise with the idea of identifying strategic security imperatives. The courses will be crafted in partnership with industry, focusing on the real-world needs of businesses.
Cybersecurity affects all parts of business, from those on the board down to networking and operations employees. "It's a breadth and depth issue - the breadth of strategy to combat cybercrime and depth through each company," Wilkinson says.