by Cecilia Harris

Cyber risk is rife according to a recent regulatory report revealing an estimated yearly cost of $1 billion to Australian business as a result of cybercrime attacks.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has released its first unclassified report exposing a 20% increase in cybercrime over the past year, with banking systems, energy providers and the communications sector the primary targets.

Aon’s Cyber Risk Practice Leader Eric Lowenstein says that cyber incidents are regular and significant, and that the recent report is an example of a heightened national awareness.

“Australia actually ranks as one of the most hacked countries in the world,” Lowenstein says.

“The Australian government and various Australian security entities are taking a very serious look at cyber crime and have a very clear focus around why they need to raise awareness within the Australian population, for both businesses and individuals.”

Lowenstein says that changes need to be made regarding how companies approach cyber risk and that businesses must think about their assets differently.

“One of the biggest changes that needs to occur is actually cultural. Organisations need to realise that cyber is no longer an IT issue, it is no longer someone else’s issue,” he says.

Australia actually ranks as one of the most hacked countries in the world

“Interestingly, organisations have been more than happy to insure buildings and physical assets. But when you think about what is actually the lifeblood of a business, it is actually the data.

“It is the digital information that is on their systems. It is the way they engage with clients. It’s the way they store information. That is their critical asset. And it is the asset that some organisations don’t necessarily put proper risk management strategies around.”

Following the report, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has issued a warning to Australian businesses, saying that they can no longer afford to ignore the threat of cybercrime.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan says that Australian businesses have been slow to recognise the scale of cyber threats and that more attention needs to be devoted to this risk.

“Australian business can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to cybercrime,” Whelan says.

“Business owners are urged to undertake a detailed risk assessment of potential vulnerabilities and liabilities and to take action to ensure appropriate protection is in place.”

ACSC Co-ordinator Clive Lines says that the development and growth of cybercrime is not expected to slow.

“If every Australian organisation read this report and acted to improve their security posture, we would see a far more informed and secure Australian internet presence,” Lines says.