Cyber threat puts jobs and revenue at stake

By Jonathan Jackson. Published at Jul 17, 2020, in Features

This week AustCyber released Australia’s Digital Trust Report 2020.

The annual report highlights the role ‘digital trust’ plays in attracting investment and driving jobs growth.

AustCyber was established in 2017 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation and is funded by federal government grants, which form a part of two national programs:

Australia’s Digital Trust Report 2020 draws on data modelled by Synergy’s Advanced Modelling Group to quantify the value of digital activity to the Australian economy and the impact of a significant cyber security incident creating a digital interruption to the Australian economy.

The key findings highlight the vulnerability of Australia’s economy to a cyberattack.

The report found:

  • Digital activity now contributes AU$426 billion to the Australian economy, up from the estimates of AU$315 billion made by Data61 and AlphaBeta in 2018;
  • It generates AU$1 trillion in gross economic output and equates to 1 in 6 jobs in the national economy.
  • Looking at online retail and the ICT industry as case studies, digital activity supported the economy through the hibernation period of the COVID-19 pandemic to the value of AU$230 billion or 12 per cent of GDP.
  • A four-week digital disruption could cost the economy AU$30 billion, the equivalent of around 1.5 per cent of GDP and an estimated direct loss of 163,000 jobs. This starts to significantly increase when loss of trust in digital infrastructure and data integrity is considered.
    • Contextualising the magnitude of this, the Australian Government injected AU$259 billion into the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic hibernation period.

The timing of the release comes at a critical time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid move to remote working and education, renewed focus on online business delivery and fast adaptation of supply chains using digital technologies,” AustCyber CEO, Michelle Price, said. “The quality of digitisation and its trustworthiness is now under immense pressure as the economy starts to recover from the pandemic. Focus and resources are needed to ensure the nation’s digital environment is secure, resilient and effective.

“This report shows that not only are key sections of Australia’s economy undergoing a step-change because of the transition to a digital environment, but that Australia’s economic future is founded in large part on the security of this digital step-change going forward.

“For the benefits of this transformation to be fully realised, including revenue and jobs recovery, Australia must invest in the means to secure digital infrastructure and data to assure trust and sustain efforts to reboot growth. This will ensure all parts of the Australian economy that are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technologies have a solid a base for market confidence and successful investment.

“It will create the conditions for Australia to improve its global competitiveness through the necessary digital governance that provides the foundation for minimising the disruptive incidences of digital intrusions that undermine our economic security.”

Cyber roadmap

In 2018, the CSIRO and AustCyber joined forces to publish Australia’s Cyber Security Industry Roadmap in 2018.

This roadmap is now more relevant than ever.

Chief Executive of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall said, “CSIRO and AustCyber (created the roadmap) to draw attention to the importance of cyber security to Australia, to create solutions from digital science that excel on the world stage, to grow our economy and protect our people.

“COVID-19 has accelerated our digital transformation, but we must strengthen our resilience with a sovereign cyber security industry to protect Australia’s interests, and build the foundation for science and technology-driven innovation to rebuild, reshape and reimagine our economy and our future.”

Australia’s security industry has called for a globally competitive Australian cyber security sector that will underpin the future success of every industry in the national economy.

There are calls for a consolidated effort between government and industry to preserve and evolve Australia’s vital digital activities. This should also enable the country to scale and connect globally.

With Australia recently being hacked, it is time to take stock of the impact cyber threats can have on the economy and ways in which to combat them.

This week’s Report is a companion to AustCyber’s other analysis and mapping of cyber security sector growth in Australia – Australia’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan and the Australian Cyber Security Industry Roadmap.

You can read the full report here

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