“THE cyber landscape is grim, we are all at risk, and we need to do something about it.”
Those were the thought-provoking words of ECU Associate Professor Mike Johnstone, who was the guest speaker at the City of Joondalup’s business forum yesterday.
About 130 people attended the forum at Joondalup Resort, which was titled ‘Joondalup Innovation Hub: The Cyber Security Capital of WA’.
Dr Johnstone, who teaches secure programming and advanced software engineering at ECU’s School of Science and is a member of the ECU Security Research Institute, outlined how vulnerable businesses are to cyber threats, reminding attendees that WA is a “long way from anywhere else but on the internet, we are milliseconds away”.
He said cyber crimes affected 1.5 million victims each day or 18 every second.
“Cyber crime is actually a business like any other business,” Dr Johnstone said.
“(Cyber) attacks are all over the place; there is a cost when it happens to you and that cost isn’t just losing data for a time and cost to put it back again, there could be a cost in terms of reputational damage or stock price… and that is problematic.”
He said finance, health and government sectors were the most at risk and that according to insurance market Lloyd’s of London, cyber crime could potentially cost the Australian economy $16 billion over the next decade.
“(Businesses are) a target, I’m a target, we all are,” Dr Johnstone said.
“If a computer has got something on it, it has got some value to someone.
“To put it bluntly, systems will be compromised and your data is going to be captured and sold by someone at some point.”
Dr Johnstone urged businesses to help protect themselves from the threat of cyber crime through measures such as strengthening passwords to more than 12 characters, turning on firewalls and installing virus scanners on all devices including smart phones and updating them regularly.
Joondalup Mayor Albert Jacob said he was pleased all spheres of government and industry had formally recognised the cyber security capabilities in Joondalup.
In 2017 the State Government provided $800,000 to support the establishment of a Joondalup Innovation Hub, with cyber security being the first industry sector focus.
The Federal and State Governments, industry, university and research participants have also invested $140 million into a Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre at ECU Joondalup.
“Our City has a goal to build Joondalup’s reputation as a place for innovation and creativity,” Mr Jacob said.
“We encourage local businesses to take advantage of the many opportunities available in Joondalup to build business knowledge and skills.”