Australian boards urged to boost cybersecurity skills


A study from the University of Queensland identified the need to prioritize cybersecurity training for administrators, to better protect Australian organizations from cyberattacks.

UQ Business School’s Dr Ivano Bongiovanni says his research found that administrators weren’t always sure of their cybersecurity duties and responsibilities, and often didn’t fully understand its importance.

“As the data breach at Optus this month demonstrates, no organization is immune to cybercrime,” says Bongiovanni.

“We surveyed non-executive directors of 43 organizations on cybersecurity; a lot of uncertainty has arisen in terms of current best practices or industry guidelines for cybersecurity strategies,” he says.

“There’s a misleading perception that cybersecurity is a purely technical topic and administrators weren’t engaged or confident to talk about it,” Bongiovanni says.

“Since the responsibility for overseeing the management of cyber risks in modern organizations rests with their boards of directors, an improvement in cyber skills at the board level is necessary.”

Cybersecurity failure is seen as one of the top threats facing Australian businesses, and with access to customer information in an attack on Optus, the Australian Cyber ​​Security Center warns companies to remain vigilant.

Study co-author and University of Queensland graduate Megan Gale said the potential impact of data breaches on Australian organizations is enormous.

“A disruption in IT infrastructure could force a business to shut down, resulting in financial loss or even more serious consequences,” Gale says.

“In Optus’ breach, sensitive and personal customer information and identity documents were accessed, which puts individuals at risk of being defrauded,” she explains.

The researchers called for clearer regulations and reporting practices and for cybersecurity training to become a priority for all administrators.

“It’s not just the boards of large corporations that need to be better equipped in this area,” says Gale.

“Boards of small and medium-sized organizations across all sectors in Australia, including non-profits and community-run organizations, need to be vigilant,” she says.

Director of Cybersecurity at the University of Queensland and Australia’s Cyber ​​Emergency Response Team AusCERT, Dr David Stockdale, says the study has shown that Australia has work to do to ensure that boards of directors include cybersecurity in their enterprise risk management activities.

“As we’ve seen with Optus, cyber threats are a matter of ‘not if, but when’, and organizations need to be prepared,” he says.

“More cyber risk training and regular communication between leaders and their security teams will ensure the best action and prevention plan.”

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