Cyber Security Should Be A Mandatory Requirement

The role of Government  in cyber security is growing as the global demand and dependency on the Internet and Internet-connected devices continue to increase. With increasing threats and fewer opportunities to fail, governments must rise to the challenge to protect both national security and economic prosperity.  

The process most governments use when creating regulations and laws encourages debate, argument, the careful examination of all sides of an issue, and the development of bartered consensus between groups with differing needs and opinions.  This model has been very successful at promoting economic success, however, it is less effective at regulating highly dynamic issues like cybersecurity.  

Networks, devices, applications, and services are changing at an exponential rate.Users and organisations are wrestling with threats on devices that didn’t even exist 18 months ago and trying to codify cybersecurity regulations is aiming at a moving target. In western democracies, the last 20 years have been characterised by wide-scale deregulation and privatisation, with much national critical infrastructure, in sectors such as energy, transport, finance and medicine, now in the hands of the private sector. 

Adversaries constantly target these critical infrastructure sectors, with security threats potentially causing both cascading and crippling effects regionally, nationally, and even internationally, as a result of the increased interconnectedness and interdependency in our society. 

Cyber security should be a mandatory government procurement requirement to create an industry-wide standard and lift cyber resilience across the economy, according to a significant new report.

The report, commissioned by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), calls for federal and state governments to strategically use their $20 billion annual technology expenditure to create a effective benchmark for improved cyber security and hardened supply chains. 

The Report recommends unification of standards; a sandbox or testing environment to enable small business to test and certify their offerings; the adoption of cyber insurance; and the building of sovereign capability by encouraging Australian providers. "Australian governments are the nation's largest spenders on ICT, Information and Communications Technology, but they're failing to maximise the leverage that market power gives them to drive improved cyber security and more secure supply chains," it concludes.

Wanted: A Strategic Approach

The ASPI report highlights the multiple standards different agencies use and the lack of a national strategic approach to public sector cyber practices. "Current approaches are fragmented and having limited impact, so a concerted national effort is needed, underpinned by major strategic changes in approach," it says. 

The report recommends the current array of supplier standards be simplified to a single set that enables suppliers to provide multiple levels that can be used for different risk levels and allows suppliers to demonstrate progress and enhanced levels of security.

On testing and certification, the report says a quick win would be to set up a centralised library of evaluations conducted by individual departments, so other departments can reuse work already done.Requiring providers to have mandatory cyber insurance would ensure security risks are effectively factored into supplier quotes. This would be similar to the current requirements government have for suppliers to have liability insurance.

Publication of the ASPI report coincides with a significant new investments in national cyber security by the Australian Government following a barrage of state-sponsored attacks on business and other infrastructure, which are widely attributed to China. 

Channel News:   Australian Financial Review:     McKinsey:         FireEye:     Information Commissioner:      Fortinet

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Wanted: International Cyber Standards:

 

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