Hunter businesses gathered in Newcastle last month to hear from leading experts to learn about artificial intelligence’s (AI) impact on cybersecurity; a growing issue for business and the community.
Hunter-based information and communication technology (ICT) firm, Diamond IT, in partnership with Fortinet and the NSW Cyber Security Network, organised the region’s second annual cybersecurity breakfast forum at Novotel Newcastle.
The speakers were:
- Dr. Alana Maurushat, Professor Of Cybersecurity And Behaviour at Western Sydney University and Port Stephens resident
- Glendin Franklin-Browne, Technology Consulting Manager, Diamond IT
- Mark Kovacik, Newcastle Account Manager, Fortinet.
Diamond IT Managing Director, Robert Buck said AI and machine learning is both a weapon and a shield in the battle of cybersecurity.
Robert said artificial intelligence is where machine-learning mimics human behaviour. He said programs can be developed to mimic humans to fool malicious software but criminals are also mimicking human behaviour.
“Cybersecurity is not just a technology problem,” Mr. Buck said.
Mark Kovacik said companies like Fortinet were using AI in products to protect businesses against the enormous and rising volumes of cyber-attacks being perpetrated daily.
“We grab threats from around the world and use them to teach our machines what a threat is and how to recognise it,” Mr Kovacik said.
Glendin Franklin-Browne said there were economic costs as well as reputational costs for businesses impacted by cyber-attacks.
He said there were three things organisations needed to do to respond to the threat of cyber-attack – have policies, conduct awareness training for staff and have a breach response plan.
“In my experience about 75% of breaches could have been avoided if staff knew what to do,” Mr. Franklin-Browne said.
Dr. Maurushat recommended all businesses look at cybersecurity insurance because businesses can only protect themselves against about 80 per cent of cyber-attacks.
She said cyber-attacks were being conducted by businesses with as good or better models than the companies they attack.
“AI is being used by cybercriminals…and most businesses underestimate just how sophisticated they are,” Dr. Maurushat said.
“Email is one of the main problems as it is often the easiest way into an organisation,” she said.
“The threat is always changing.”
She gave examples of how mobile phones were also used in payment diversion fraud and other attacks.
Mr. Buck said the Hunter region was becoming known as an area of expertise in cybersecurity with resident global experts such as; Dr Maurushat, the inaugural Director of the NSW Cyber Security Network, Todd Williams and the Director of Advanced Cyber Security Engineering Research Centre (ACSRC) and University of Newcastle academic, Professor Vijay Varadharajan.
He said following on from the success of its first forum held last year, Diamond IT wanted to continue raise awareness of cybersecurity issues with the business and general community as well as provide a sector forum to exchange ideas on the topic.
Cybercrime takes two forms:
- crimes where computers or other information communications technologies are an integral part of an offence (such as online fraud)
- crimes directed at computers or other technologies (such as hacking).
According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) cybercrime is costing the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually in direct costs alone. In addition to loss of money, cybercrime causes other damage including:
- damage to personal identity and reputation
- loss of business or employment opportunities
- impact on emotional and psychological wellbeing.
The ACIC says Australia is an attractive target for serious and organised crime syndicates due to our nation’s relative wealth and high use of technology such as social media, online banking and government services.
IMAGE | Dr Alana Maurushat and Diamond IT Managing Director, Robert Buck
Diamond IT is a leading technology provider supporting businesses to run smoothly, reliably and productively. Its diverse range of offerings includes managed IT services, infrastructure solutions, software development, telecommunications and technology consultancy.