91% of cyber attacks arrive via email

There was a great article in The Age over the weekend by Michael Gorey about the Council of Small Business Australia forum in Canberra last week and warnings from the Reserve Bank’s cyber security chief Andrew Pade that criminals were shifting their focus to smaller targets.

Members also heard from Peter Strong, Chief Executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, who said: “Cultural change is required. Twenty years ago most businesses didn’t have burglar alarms and now if you haven’t got one it’s weird. That’s the culture we want with cyber security.”

Mr Pade echoed Mr Strong’s comments, saying: “While it may be scary, this is a new norm. It’s not something that can be solved. It’s a bit like driver awareness where constant vigilance is required to maintain your security posture.”

This is a reality check for many businesses. I recently hosted a series of luncheons titled “Surviving The Rise of Cybercrime” around Australia with over 100 CxOs. Many are shocked by the impact cybercrime is having.

Our special guests at the luncheons, Alastair MacGibbon, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, and Steven Miller, SMB Director, Microsoft, shared some alarming insights.

As Alastair said: “We know, in cybersecurity land, that you can have as many defenders as you like. It’s the defenders’ dilemma: you can succeed 99 times out of 100 but the attacker only needs to succeed once.”

His stance was backed up by Steve: “You’re only as strong as the weakest link in your organisation. And when you have links coming to every single person in your business, how are you thinking about securing them? About protecting them, in a way that enables them to take advantage of everything that the digital economy offers them?”

It should be no surprise then that a recent report shared by Steve Ingram, cybersecurity lead at PwC, confirmed that cybercrime is now the number one economic crime in Australia.

It’s alarmingly easy for cybercriminals to get a foot in the door of businesses, with 91% of cyber attacks arriving via email, usually via phishing – tricking users by forging the brands that we know and trust, or by impersonating senior executives.

In cybersecurity, the human factor is the greatest vulnerability, which is why the heightened awareness around cyber threats is so encouraging. A large part of the challenge is generating awareness and educating those who are in harm’s way. This is particularly the case with executives who are time-poor and often feel that there’s too much to consider.

That was my motivation for writing my book, Surviving the Rise of Cybercrime, which is a non-technical executive guide, designed to help navigate an ever-changing threat landscape. The book was recently launched in Canberra by the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Australia’s Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security.

You can download the eBook version free at www.survivingcybercrime.com

There has never been a better time to have a conversation about cybersecurity.

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