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Budget 2022 Update: Budget’s billion-dollar cyber package falls short for some leaders

Following last night’s budget announcement, business leaders and security advocates say that they are unsurprised by the huge investment, but believe that more can be done to combat the looming cybercrime threat.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed a new, 10-year $9.9 billion investment in Australia’s offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.

“This is the biggest ever investment in Australia’s cyber preparedness,” Treasurer Frydenberg said of the investment, which includes a new cyber and critical technology centre.

Additionally, there will be incentives for small businesses that embrace digital transformation.

“From tonight, every hundred dollars these small businesses spend on digital technologies like cloud computing, e-invoicing, cybersecurity, and web design will see them get a $120 tax deduction,” he continued.  

According to the ACS Annual Cyber Threat Report 2020-2021, the ACS received over 67,500 cybercrime reports last financial year, an increase of nearly 13 per cent over the previous financial year. In particular, malicious actors exploited security vulnerabilities sometimes only within a couple of hours of public disclosure.

Small businesses may not have the resources or capabilities to efficiently tackle cyber threats and are left vulnerable to these digital attacks. Cyber-security experts have suggested that the  budget plan needs to do more to educate small businesses.

Ajay Unni, founder of Stickman Cyber, a business that helps companies mitigate their cyber security risks, said he would like to see the cyber security measures go further.

“Without helpful mandates or more defined guidance on how the funds can be used by Australian businesses, businesses are playing with fire,” he said, “We don’t need another Pink Batts situation.”

The Pink Batts program was a home insulation program that ended in disaster with four workers dead and hundreds of house fires in 2009. The 2014 Royal Commission into the program uncovered that the two public servants were given just two days to come up with the financing arrangements for the $2.8 billion scheme.

Mr Unni also highlighted the importance of using stricter security measures on anything digital.

“We have security measures and controls for car manufacturing, appliances and home construction. The same stringent measures need to be applied to anything digital that goes live with systems and controls in place that stops the risk of public data and information being exposed,” hestated.

Another big worry for businesses is the threat of security breaches.   

A recent Psychology of Passwords report by LastPass JAPAC found that 53 per cent of those surveyed haven’t changed their passwords in the past year, even after hearing about a breach in the news.

Senior Director at LastPass JAPAC, Matthew McWhiter, said: “With more unprecedented digital onslaughts expected to be faced not only for the government, but the average individual, it is more critical than ever to have multiple lines of defence to safely secure your online data and develop proactive over reactive cybersecurity strategies.”

During his budget announcement, Treasurer Frydenberg also admitted digital vulnerabilities are a genuine threat to the nation similar to military and defense threats.

“The lesson of history is that weakness invites aggression. It leaves the nation vulnerable to coercion. This is the reality we must confront; the world is less stable. We must invest more in the defense of our nation.”

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Nour Ahmad

Nour Ahmad

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