Home Security Australian CEOs lead global counterparts in mitigating cyber security risks

Australian CEOs lead global counterparts in mitigating cyber security risks

Cyber security is front of mind for Australian chief executives, with investment in cyber defence seen as a top priority, according to a new report.

The report, by professional services firm KPMG, shows that 4 out of 5 Australian companies have made "high investment" in cyber over the past 12 months (80% vs 66% globally), and are also planning higher investment over the next three years than their global counterparts.

And, according to the study, strengthening organisational resilience against cyber-attacks is Australian CEOs' second highest priority for investment overall - with 71% of Aussie companies preparing to invest compared to 53% of CEOs globally.

Nearly half (48%) of Australian CEOs said they are concerned about combatting cyber security "fatigue" within their organisations.

"It’s clear that Australian CEOs are awake to the threat represented by cyber-attacks, and are investing in defences accordingly,” says Gordon Archibald, a partner in KPMG Australia's Cyber Security Services practice.

“They’re more likely to admit they’re not where they need to be, and recognise that work needs to be done. In the current environment, following major high profile global and local attacks, this is a commendable approach."

According to KPMG, Australia’s attitude towards different types of cyber threats varies from global concerns, with more confidence amongst Australian CEOs in their preparation against social media issues or data theft, but less in feeling fully ready for ransomware or DDoS attacks.

And Australian CEOs are more likely than their global counterparts to see mitigating cyber risk as an embedded part of their leadership role (94% vs 72% globally), but less likely to see it as a disruptive growth opportunity (59% vs 71%).

But, Australian leaders are more likely to see security as prompting innovation in products and services (69% vs 53% globally), and the study reveals that they are more conscious that the impact of cyber security investment should be tracked, with 50% saying that companies "need to be smarter" in tracking, vs 42% globally.

KPMG says the survey shows that human capital is seen as the key challenge in tackling cyber security for 65% of Australian firms vs 47% globally.

"It is very good to see Australian CEOs stepping up to take responsibility for cyber security. There’s definite recognition globally that investment and innovation in cyber security can encourage innovation across an organisation. But in Australia, even if cyber defences aren’t seen as leading to direct ROI, the investment still need to be justified,” Archibald says.

“The number one hurdle is finding qualified and experienced talent to both address the risks and grasp the opportunities, so it’s important that industry, government and academia continue to work together to foster the Australian cyber security sector.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).