Jaclyn McRae 09 June 2017 14:01:59 AEST 3 MIN READ

“Don’t be the headline when the next one occurs”

Business leaders have urged Australian executives to stop being complacent about their exposure to online crime.

Australian executives came together in Melbourne and Sydney to discuss how to tackle the rise of cybercrime, which costs the economy up to $17 billion annually.

Watch the short highlights video here:

The event was hosted by cybersecurity company MailGuard and tech leader Microsoft.

"Never let a good crisis go to waste"

Alastair MacGibbon, Australia’s Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Cyber Security, gave the keynote address. He said on the large, Australia dodged a bullet in May when the world’s largest-ever ransomware outbreak occurred.

“But it’s a reminder to us to ‘up’ the discussion we have with our [fellow] executives. It’s a reminder to ask ‘What would happen if that was us?’, MacGibbon said.

“What would happen if your files, and your business were encrypted? Do you have the backups to go to? What was my patching regime?”

MacGibbon said the rise in headlines about online threats including ransomware presented an opportunity for local businesses.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste. This is actually about changing culture. It’s about changing the conversation. It’s about using these examples … and saying ‘What do I need to do to prevent that happening in the future?’”

Cybercrime has rapidly risen to become the number one economic crime in Australia, according to PwC.

Prevention is less expensive than cure

Microsoft’s SMB Director, Steve Miller, said the heightened media attention surrounding WannaCry should serve as a huge wakeup call.

“It’s incumbent on all of us not to be the headline when the next one occurs. To not be the people who put it off and waited,” he said.

“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.

“How do you optimistically secure them? How do you make sure it’s not about clamping down, restricting flexibility, restricting their agility and ability to get business done?

“How do you do that in a way that maintains security and peace of mind, but allows you to thrive in a digital economy?”

Shroud of secrecy

Dan Tehan, Minister Assisting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Cyber Security, said earlier this year that businesses are refusing to admit to being hit by cybercrime for fear of reputational damage.

He said cybercrime is conservatively estimated to cost the Australian economy $1 billion annually – but added that the real figure is likely to be much higher.

Cybercrime costs the Australian economy between $1 billion and $17 billion annually, or roughly 1 per cent of GDP. The average attack costs SMBs $276,000.

Surviving the Rise of Cybercrime explains the complex threat in straight-forward terms, with the aim of empowering time-poor, non-tech executives in under an hour.

You can download the free eBook version here: http://www.mailguard.com.au/survivingcybercrime

For a few dollars per staff member per month, add MailGuard's cloud-based email and web filtering solution to your business security. You’ll significantly reduce the risk of new variants of malicious email from entering your network.

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