Like the majority of countries all over the globe, Australia has been greatly affected by the many advancements we’ve seen in the technological world in recent times.

The internet has become an increasingly significant part of modern life, especially in developed countries like Australia, and it’s not uncommon for people to spend large portions of their daily lives making use of connected devices to stay in touch with their friends, entertain themselves, and keep up with various news from all around the world [1].

With the rise in internet use comes a rise in risks and threats to Australians on both an individual and national scale. We’ve seen a lot of cyber-criminality cases all over the globe, especially in the last decade, and Australia is one of many countries to have introduced new systems and cybersecurity measures in order to deal with this new and potent threat to the safety and security of its people, businesses, and political infrastructure [2]. Cybersecurity in Australia is ever-changing and evolving to counter new threats and protect the nation, but this country could still be considered as lagging behind in some respects.

Cybersecurity institutions of Australia

For Australia, the main cybersecurity institution is the ACSC (Australian Cyber Security Centre) [3].

The ACSC is the main body focused on strengthening cybersecurity and cutting down on the rate of cyber-attacks in Australia. The ACSC was founded in 2014 and has developed and grown swiftly since its establishment.

This institution is part of the Australian Signals Directorate and has seen increased resources and significance to the country in recent years as cybersecurity has become a more prominent issue all over the world. In the past, separate governmental cybersecurity entities like CERT Australia and the Digital Transformation Agency also existed, but these have since been incorporated into the ACSC, creating one large institution with greater power and a wider array of resources.

The ACSC is focused on cybersecurity at all levels, from individuals and members of the general Australian public through to small and medium businesses, right the way up to local, state, and federal governments. The ACSC is focused on responding to any cybersecurity threats and making use of the CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) when necessary and also works at raising awareness of cybersecurity all around Australia.

Australia is also part of the 5 Eyes Alliance. This alliance is formed between major English-speaking countries over the world, including the United States and United Kingdom, and allows intelligence to be exchanged between the leading agencies of these nations. The aim of this alliance is to prevent terrorist attacks and protect the people, but fears have been raised about the way the alliance works and the potential risks the public may face.

Cyber-attack statistics in Australia

The cybercrime statistics for Australia have become increasingly concerning in recent years [4].

In 2016 alone, the rate of cybercrime in the country was seen to double [5].

Statistics and surveys show that over 60% of businesses encounter cybersecurity issues on a monthly basis, with many individuals also being subject to malware and other attacks.

With this high rate of cyber-attacks, Australia is considered to be a leading target for cyber criminals all over the world. As in most other developed countries, the majority of Australia’s cyber-attacks are identified as coming from external sources, and a lot of the targets tend to be individuals simply using the internet and home and falling victim to malware or identity theft, with lots of small businesses also targeted.

Over half a million small businesses in Australia are victims of cybercrime each year [6], with potential costs of millions of dollars incurred by small and medium sized businesses [7]. These statistics are particularly worrying for new start-ups and companies around the nation, with cyber-attacks becoming increasingly widespread and effective.

In early 2019, Australia witnessed one of its most sever cyber-attacks [8]. This attack was focused on the Australian Parliament in the buildup to a federal election, and naturally raised a lot of concern both in Australia and the international community. The attack was identified as coming from a ‘sophisticated state actor’ from outside the country, leading to the term ‘cyber war’ taking on greater meaning for the nation.

Educating society

One of the ACSC’s main duties and obligations is to raise awareness on cybersecurity issues and cyber-attacks all around Australia. Among its primary aims, the center lists the importance of helping both businesses and members of the public learn more about cybersecurity and how to keep their data and connections safe. As with most other nations around the world, Australia is hoping that education will be key in preventing and cutting down the rate of cybercrime.

To this end, the ACSC organizes various awareness initiatives and other programmes aimed at letting people know why they need to stay safe online and how they should go about it. These initiatives are a big part of helping the country fight back against cyber criminals, and the ASCS also encourages more of the nation’s young people to take an active interest in cybersecurity and perhaps even seek a future career in the field.

Unfortunately for Australia, a lot more needs to be done in terms of cybersecurity education in Australia and the country is crying out for more trained cybersecurity experts and new organizations. Statistics show that Australia has less than 10% of the skilled cybersecurity workforce it needs to counter increasing threats [9], and this lack of trained personnel is potentially costing the country’s businesses and institutions hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Most popular cybersecurity tools in Australia

The statistics on cyber-attacks are particularly worrying as Australia is highly reliant on the internet.

Close to 90% of the Australian population is connected to the net and the vast majority of people and businesses make use of it each and every day.

Even more worryingly, recent governmental surveys revealed that almost half of Australians don’t really think they’re at any threat of malware or other forms of cyber-attacks [10].

This means that many Australians are staying safe online through the use of anti-malware software and VPNs to encrypt and secure their internet connections. Without the use of these security tools and systems, the online connections, transactions, transfers, and other communications of Australians are at risk and the rate of cyber-attacks in the country will surely continue to grow.

Recommended read:

Best VPN for Australia

Resources used:

  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/680142/australia-internet-penetration/
  2. https://www.cert.gov.au/news/cyber-security-challenges-2018
  3. https://www.acsc.gov.au/
  4. https://www.cert.gov.au/aisi/statistics/malware-statistics
  5. https://www.arnnet.com.au/article/616804/cybercrime-australia-doubled-2016/
  6. https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/from-millions-to-malware-cyber-attacks-in-australia-by-the-numbers/
  7. https://www.computerworld.com.au/article/650122/400-million-cost-australia-cyber-security-skills-shortage/
  8. https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/hacking/global-fear-over-australian-cyber-attack-as-dozens-of-us-entities-targeted-by-iran-and-china/news-story/5131daf3d66d628af2bcc987ece4ce7b
  9. https://www.cso.com.au/article/645445/australia-only-has-7-percent-cybersecurity-expertise-it-needs/
  10. https://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/Newsroom/Newsroom/Media-releases/australians-underrate-the-risks-of-malware-1