As we all saw, cheaters’ haven Ashley Madison recently fell prey to a catastrophic cyberattack. The private data of millions of users fell into the hands of hackers and was released online – ruining many lives and utterly destroying any hope for Ashley Madison to ever regain the trust of its former customers. On the bright side, this online disaster served as a wake-up call for all Australians in regards to the importance of cyber-security.

According to the PwC survey Insurance Banana Skins 2015, cybercrime has now become the number one preoccupation of Australian insurers and other businesses alike. And with good reason. The annihilation of Ashley Madison was caused by “hacktivists” working for what they believe to be the greater good, but many other businesses hold a wealth of personal knowledge about their clients (credit card data and other personal information) that would be palatable to the common cybercriminal more interested in lining their pockets than changing the world – the kind that hacked more than 40 million Target accounts in the US in another notable recent online disaster.

Even worse, not all hackers are just independent internet brigands. One respondent to the PWC survey reports, “We repel more than 20 serious attacks every day. Half of these we suspect are state-sponsored attacks”. Surely the overseas governments of the world have better things to do than to hack into the databases of Australian businesses? And yet, with the hacker attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment last year which prevented the release of the controversial movie The Interview allegedly supported by North Korea, this statement may not be as outlandish as it seems.

As the assault on Ashley Madison demonstrated, the consequences of a successful cyberattack can be devastating: a major financial blow, loss of trust, blemishes on the company’s reputation, and potential legal repercussions. With that in mind, it’s not surprising there now is a high demand for cyber-security products on the market. You could say that everything bad is good for something: thanks to the recent attacks, Australian businesses are now fully aware of the threat they are facing and should be working with their insurers and IT providers to counter it.

For further information about cyber security in Australia, visit the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s website.

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