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Monday, 05 August 2019 11:45

Cybersecurity skills gap a problem for Australian lawyers: report Featured

Cybersecurity skills gap a problem for Australian lawyers: report Image Stuart Miles,

New research has revealed a major cybersecurity skills gap amongst Australian lawyers, with 86% of legal practitioners believing the industry needs to upskill in cybersecurity measures.

The survey commissioned by technology solutions for legal professionals vendor LexisNexis Australia exposed what the company says is a concerning cybersecurity skills-shortage, and despite this “alarming statistic”, little is being done to address the skills-gap with just a third of practitioners spending more than an hour a month training themselves or staff on cybersecurity.

“As such, it is not surprising that 45% of practitioners state they are not well prepared to act in the event of a cyber-attack,” says LexisNexis.

The 2019 Decoding Cybersecurity: Clause and Effect Survey, commissioned to assess the attitudes of Australians legal practitioners towards cybersecurity, has been undertaken at a time when demand for cybersecurity support from legal practitioners is rapidly increasing, according to LexisNexis.

This demand is being driven by the introduction of GDPR, the Assistance and Access Act and a range of regulations which impact Australian businesses of all shapes and descriptions.

As a result of growing cybersecurity threats and legislative changes, 58% of practitioners said their firm’s cybersecurity practice group billings increased by over 5 percent (with 38 percent of respondents saying that their billings increased up to 20 percent) compared to the previous year.

Faced with a growing cybersecurity related workload, 60 percent of practitioners say they are not confident in their knowledge of the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme.

Simon Wilkins, managing director of LexisNexis Australia, said it was concerning but not surprising that a significant number of legal practitioners are struggling to maintain their expertise given the constantly evolving regulatory and technological environment.

“It is alarming that the legal industry lacks the preparedness and skills for protecting their own firm’s sensitive data which, when appropriated can be leaked, sold or held for ransom by malicious hackers.”

“Equally concerning is the industry’s lack of confidence and knowledge in current Australian cybersecurity regulations”

The research revealed that almost half of the legal industry believe Australian cybersecurity laws are insufficient, while 72 percent of practitioners believe the recent Encryption Bill potentially allows for a breach of privacy.

The survey has been released ahead of the 2019 LexisNexis Decoding Cybersecurity: Clause and Effect Roadshow which will bring together Australian thought leaders to discuss their experiences and thoughts on the current legal and compliance elements of cybersecurity and its role in the legal industry.

The Roadshow will visit six key Australian legal jurisdictions including Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth this August and will feature privacy and technology law expert panellists including David Yates, Partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Cheng Lim, Partner at King & Wood Mallesons, Sonia Sharma, Special Counsel at Maddocks, Ravi de Fonseka, Partner at Johnson Winter & Slattery and Rebecca Dunn, Special Counsel at Gilbert + Tobin.

It will also feature cybersecurity experts including Suelette Dreyfus, Cybersecurity and Digital Privacy Specialist at the University of Melbourne, Jacqui Kernot, Cybersecurity Partner at Ernst & Young and Ben Cornish, Security and Risk Manager at SAAB Security.

“We believe the Roadshow will represent an extremely valuable experience for attendees of all levels of expertise and I encourage lawyers to register their interest and come armed with questions,” Wilkins said.

“By collaborating as an industry, we can plan for what the future of cybersecurity might look like and achieve the best results for our customers and their clients.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a 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).



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