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Six insights on cyber network security

We recently joined 1000-plus senior IT leaders at the Gartner IT Symposium on the Gold Coast to listen, learn and discuss IT leadership in the emerging Digital Society.

As part of the program, Andrew Wildblood, our Chief Executive, Enterprise & Government at Vocus, hosted a panel discussion on the importance of secure networks – featuring David Irvine AO, Chair of the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre and former Head of ASIO, Julian Fay, CTO of leading encryption technology Senetas, Steve Haigh, Group Manager, Network Engineering at Vocus and Phil Martell, Head of Strategic Network Development at Vocus.

It was an interesting and wide-ranging discussion so we thought we’d pull together a summary of the top six insights:

1. We’re more dependent on the cyber world than ever – which creates new vulnerabilities.

The cyber world is a great thing – it allows us to work more efficiently and make connections like we never could before. However, we have become so dependent on the internet and digital technology that we have created a range of new attack surfaces. As David Irvine put it, “the wars of the 21st century will be fought in cyberspace before a kinetic shot is fired.”

2. Australia is taking steps, but it needs to be making strides

Australia has made some great headway in preparing the nation for the threat of cyber-attacks with initiatives like the national Cyber Security Strategy. However, according to David there is still a journey ahead for both the government and the private sector, to develop what he calls national cyber resilience. “Every publicised breach is a wake-up call but governments, companies and individuals often press the snooze button on the wake-up call and go back to sleep.”

3. Organisational culture and compliance are key drivers of security

Though technology is obviously an important aspect of organisational security, internal culture is just as important, according to Phil Martell. “We can talk a lot about the technology, but it in fact comes down to the people at the end of the day. That’s been the hardest part of the journey for us [Vocus], to go through the process with our people and upskill them.”

Phil spoke about how Vocus has established a strong cultural and procedural discipline for enhancing its secure network. “We have actually split our network into two complete parts – one part for delivering more high security requirements, and one for more future-oriented network requirements.” He said the people working on Vocus’ secure network all have Negative Vetting 1 (NV1) security clearance so “we can actually say that our salespeople, the person who designs your service, the person who sees the fibre maps – they’re all NV1 cleared.”

4. Categorisation is key

With quantum computing on the way, there will be new ways in the future for hackers to decrypt valuable information. Julian Fay spoke of the importance of acting now to categorise your assets and determine if they are crown jewels needing top priority encryption, or if they are less sensitive. “Having this categorisation in place will give your organisation a key risk metric.”

5. The strength of a modern network

Building a modern network allows you to think of security from the ground up. According to Steve Haigh, “a lot of networks that are out there in telcos today have had security bolted on over the last number of years, as requirements have evolved. [At Vocus] we get to leverage our learnings from best practices, and really build it with security in mind from the very start.”

6. It’s time to get boards ready

According to David Irvine, there are a few steps boards of organisations can take now to make sure they’re preparing for cyber threats of the future:

  • Understand what the risks and consequences are for your organisation
  • Understand what your systems are and what the value of your data is
  • Instill a culture of practicing cyber hygiene
  • Prepare for disasters – think of backup plans and simulate a crisis to help prepare
  • Consider bringing appropriate security expertise onto the board and seek the right level of expertise and support from outside your organisation.

Vocus is a leading specialist fibre and network solutions provider that’s engineered and purpose-built for business and government organisations. Our world-class network extends across Australia, New Zealand, and across Asia Pacific, and we have a team of leading network experts who are crazy about customers and understand the needs of today’s business and government organisations.

More than 5,000 organisations just like yours have made the switch to Vocus, including more than 200 government agencies and nearly 2/3rds of ASX 200.

If you need support meeting the network security requirements for your organisation, we’re ready to help.