In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Australian businesses have had to adapt to a more remote working environment. Working outside of the office, particularly from home, is becoming the new normal. And while convenient for some, it’s posing some serious security issues for others.
The threat of cyber criminals targeting businesses operating in this new environment is a very real one, and many have not been prepared. A recent report from Deloitte and RMIT Online about the digital skills gap in Australia revealed that 87% of jobs in Australia require digital literacy skills, but less than 5% of those surveyed for the report said they would be comfortable working in fields like coding, programming, cyber security, blockchain and cloud based services.
Adapting to the new normal
It’s this disparity that may open up businesses to cyber attacks, something Sean Duca, Vice President and Regional Chief Security Officer for Asia Pacific and Japan at Palo Alto Networks, believes is a very real threat for both large and small scale businesses.
“With working from home being the new normal, cybercrime will continue to be a threat now more than ever,” he said.
“Every business needs to ensure that they have the latest technology and are aware, educated, and have the processes to ensure they don’t fall for the next cyber attack.”
Looking at what industries may be at more of a risk than others, Duca elaborated that these criminals are not picky when choosing their potential victims.
“The risk is across all sectors,” he continued. “Cybercriminals do not discriminate when it comes to who they target. For attackers, the goal is to cast their net as far and wide as they possibly can to try and capture anyone.”
He did however state that small businesses are more often at risk because of their limited resources compared to large-scale organisations.
“Small businesses don’t always have the resources to provide or manage the security for their businesses. They are often so busy running a business that cybersecurity often isn’t front of mind leaving them more vulnerable to attacks.
“Larger organisations also generally have more resources, budget and awareness to implement processes to manage a cyberattack.”
Training to protect your business
These sentiments were echoed by Helen Souness, CEO at RMIT Online, who highlighted the need for more cybersecurity professionals in Australia.
“COVID-19 saw a rapid digitisation of the economy, disrupting how we work and do business remotely,” she said.
“This in turn has led to an increase in frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks, from small business to private sector to governments — there has been no sector immune to the threat of digital security.
“We are in desperate need of cybersecurity specialists, as well as a broader educational awareness from leaders and managers within organisations on the importance of cybersecurity to keep pace with evolving threats.”
The Deloitte and RMIT Online report identified that 82% of surveyed Australians were not aware that they can access courses from leading universities online which could help them with upskilling in the area of digital literacy.
Souness said bringing more people into online courses and digital training will only help to protect businesses moving forward.
“Nationally, we need to secure the skills in our local workforce to withstand future attacks and build resilience for Australia in a world where cyber breaches are more common,” she continued.
“Targeted education programs — like RMIT Online’s cybersecurity six week short course, and more formal graduate certificates in cybersecurity — have been built with industry leaders like Palo Alto Networks and NAB to ensure the skills we are teaching are in line with what industry needs first hand.”
While the need for more training is real, Souness was encouraged that more than half of the people surveyed in the report would prioritise a learning work culture over a fun work culture.
“We must think differently about training as something that is a core business activity, not simply a nice to have. It will be these businesses who are able to attract and retain strong talent at a time when resilience and adaptability to change is key.”
Seeing which organisations prioritise upskilling and training will be a major factor within the business community across 2021 and into the future.
It is clear that encouraging and furthering organisational change associated with digital training and cyber security should be highlighted as a top priority for executives in all businesses going forward.
RMIT Online was created by RMIT University to provide a world-class digital learning experience at the nexus of business, design and technology, leaning into future of work needs to equip students with in-demand skills and qualifications. RMIT Online teams up with industry thought leaders and experts to deliver the best in flexible education using the latest digital tools and technologies for a highly interactive, virtual cohort experience.