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Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in prolonged lockdowns and quarantines, limiting economic activity and resulting in closure of businesses and many people losing their jobs. Various institutions around the world are unanimous in predicting that a recession is on its way, if not already here. Unless a vaccine is developed in the immediate future, the uncertainty will continue to rise in the days and months to come. However, businesses can turn this situation into an opportunity to examine their current operations.

A review of the events of the recent global recession – the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 – reveals that six recession-seeded trends, when acted upon promptly, provided business advantage. Although the trends for the anticipated COVID-19-led recession are still to be established, CIOs can benefit from re-examining the lessons of the past recessions and exploring a recession’s potential to deliver organisational efficiencies and savings. The outcome may be selective adoption of technology or deferral of projects, but the potency of these trends cannot be ignored.

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Conclusion: Identity and access management is a crucial component of an organisation’s security posture. At its most basic, it is how an organisation determines whether an individual can access resources or not. In today’s world, it is also becoming the basis of how applications first identify then communicate with each other.

Assurance of identity is the cornerstone of managing access to information. An organisation must be confident in that assurance. One method of bolstering the strength of that assurance could be the deployment of multi-factor authentication – at a minimum to privileged users, but ideally to all users of the services and applications whether those users are staff or not.

As organisations move from office-bound networks to distributed workforces combined with Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, identity will evolve to be almost the sole element used to assess and grant access. Identity is certainly a central element of zero trust environments.

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Background: The federal government has finally unveiled its cyber security strategy. The Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, released on 6th August will see $1.67 billion invested in a number of already-known initiatives aimed at enhancing Australia's cyber security over the next decade. IBRS provides their key takeaways from the strategy.


Most of the funding for the Strategy 2020 is from July’s announced $1.35 billion cyber enhanced situational awareness and response (CESAR) package much of the Strategy details will be contained in legislation to be put before parliament.

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Conclusion: Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common and Australian organisations have experienced several high-profile incidents in 2020. While the preferred option is to recover from backups, organisations may find that this is not feasible either because of the scale of the compromise or that backups themselves are compromised. While the decision to pay a ransom is complex and poses significant risks, it should be explored in parallel with the recovery from backup.

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Conclusion: Australian financial organisations have been bombarding their suppliers and partners with requests to complete security assessments. If servicing or dealing with financial organisations is part of the operational model for the organisation, this has probably already happened or is about to happen.

Those financial bodies are being driven by an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) issued prudential standard CPS 234 (Cross-industry Prudential Standard). This document lays out how a financial body should manage its cyber security with particular emphasis on extending that management to parties that support or supply the financial body.

These assessments can be tedious and raise concerns about cyber security maturity within the organisation. On the other hand, they bring a clear high-level focus on areas that all organisations should either be covering or working towards covering. This makes CPS 234 a valuable reference for senior executives building a cyber security program.

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Conclusion: In the current COVID-19-driven environment, video conference calls have become the stuff of life. They are used for school, family, leisure and even work. Numbers of call attendees have jumped from tens of millions to more than 300 million worldwide. As is normal in technology, there are a plethora of options to choose from.

One of those, Zoom, has made the news repeatedly over the period of April-May, initially because of its popularity but then because security flaws were being discovered. With the flaws seemingly serious, commentators were recommending organisations abandon Zoom. Many organisations did so, given the amount of coverage the flaws received.

But the product was and is popular. It is one of the easiest video conferencing products to use. It works well and is simple to deploy. A valid question to ask is whether Zoom is safe to use for business purposes. Taking a realistic view of the flaws combined with efforts Zoom has made to correct some of them leads to the conclusion that Zoom is safe for general business usage.

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Conclusion: Many vendors, consultants and managed service providers are pushing ‘security information and event management’ (SIEM) as a panacea to security failings. The intent is correct. Having visibility of what is or has happened in the infrastructure is essential to detecting and responding to intrusions.

What often gets glossed over is that SIEM is a tool, not a complete solution in itself. Deployment requires deep engagement with the IT operations team and a clear vision of what is expected from the SIEM. The vision will be driven by how SIEM will be used, what outcomes would be expected and how its use would evolve over time.

With careful planning prior to deployment, some, if not most, of these issues can be addressed.

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Conclusion: The phrase ‘People, Process and Technology’ describes the three key elements of a successful business. Business is the why, People the who, Process the what, and Technology the how. No single element of the trilogy can be seen as more important than the others. However, in the post-COVID-19 world, successful businesses will see that the focus of People has changed – they no longer go to work, work goes to them.

In technology terms, this effectively means that everyone is now the core of the system; the old concept of a core that is controlled from a central hub is now questionable. Post-COVID-19 technology
design must allow for each worker to be able to work from any location, able to access information, services and data when necessary, and for each location to have surge capability.

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Conclusion: Risk assessment tools help protect and support staff and minimise business disruptions by following Australian risk management (and health) guidelines.

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Conclusion: Ransomware attacks have been in the news lately with Toll, Talman, Travelex and Manheim Auctions all having their day-to-day operations completely shattered. Many pundits and security product vendors are touting their initiatives to help an organisation defend itself against such an attack.

Despite all best efforts, there is no 100 % guaranteed defence against succumbing to a ransomware attack. So rather than investing still more funds in defensive products, it is well worthwhile creating a strategy to allow a rapid recovery or reestablishment of service after being struck by an attack.

It is possible to develop some strategies, all relatively inexpensive apart from time, that will position an organisation to have an excellent chance of quickly returning to normal productivity after a ransomware attack.

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In the News

New cyber security rules reset $8b cloud marketplace - Financial Review - 26 July 2020

Philip Nesci, IBRS adviser and former CIO, has warned that agencies will need to get their information management sorted out to capitalise on the new rules. ‘‘Agencies need to identify their...
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Australia can build a culture of employee-led innovation - DropEverything - 24 July 2020

IBRS advisor Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses why it falls to individuals to look at improving their work in a post-COVID world. Dr. Sweeney comments on the need to build a culture of innovation that...
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Outdated work from home policies bog down Aussie businesses - Computer Reseller News - 6 April 2020

IBRS analyst Dr. Joseph Sweeney provides best practice-advice on working from home in the current pandemic situation. Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses current working from home policies which are...
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Centrelink crashes under demand for crisis payments - Australian Financial Review - 23 march 2020

IBRS workforce transformation advisor Joseph Sweeney said many government departments had to navigate difficult IT environments that were only part-way through their digital transformations, with...
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Inside EY's security work at ANZ - Australian Financial Review - 3 March 2020

"There is more security work to go round than there are resources. So I don't think the market is that crowded. It's important to remember that security is not something you buy and then it's done;...
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