Deloitte: Caution around cyber risks ‘costly, catching, and dangerous’

Increased investment in cyber now means wage growth and more jobs later, report forecasts

Greater investment in cyber security would lead to national wage increases of two per cent by 2030, claims a report by Deloitte Australia published today.

Making the nation ‘cyber smart’ could lift business investment by more than five per cent and put 60,000 people into employment the firm’s What’s over the horizon? prediction paper claims.

Too much caution regarding cyber risk was stymieing innovation and economic growth Deloitte said.

“Fear is costly, it’s catching, and it’s dangerous,” the report states. “A disproportionate focus on cyber risks…comes at the expense of new digital opportunities, meaning that the very technologies with the greatest potential to turbocharge our future prosperity are those that we are often less willing to pursue.”

Speaking at the National Press Club today, the head of Deloitte’s Access Economics forecasting and policy unit, Chris Richardson said investing in cyber encouraged innovation.

“We're all acting cautiously,” he said. “The headlines, they sound very scary, and that's understandable, but cautious comes with a cost. The most valuable investments that Australia can make are a bunch of those in and around new technologies but those new technologies involve us being more and more connected, and businesses, they're worried about, if we're more connected, surely that means more vulnerable.

“What if going on to the front foot and being cyber savvy allowed us to invest more in those valuable technologies? There are always a bunch of things that can go wrong. There have always been a bunch of things that go wrong. But if you look at these alternative futures, you consider the detail, that's when things become rather less scary.”

Sectors with the most to gain from Australia becoming a 'cyber smart nation' include banking, government, health, education and defence, the report says, and all states stood to benefit. Deloitte points to Israel as an exemplar of how a ‘best-in-class cyber savvy’ can realise economic gains.

“With the confidence that cyber risks will be managed better, there will be a reduction in risk aversion when evaluating new technology and digital projects,” the report said.

Major cat herding

Achieving national competency around cyber threats and risks required the input of government, business and families, Richardson said. The economist referred to the challenge as a “major cat herding exercise”, adding the stakeholders were “supertankers” that “can’t and don’t change course fast”.

“Don't be scared – be prepared,” he added.

That sentiment was echoed by special adviser to the Prime Minister on cyber security Alastair MacGibbon, discussing the Deloitte report on ABC radio this morning.

“There’s no doubt the threat environment is real…but it’s not that we’re helpless in this space; there are not just great homegrown technologies but it’s also a risk management exercise. It’s about business processes, it’s about having a conversation with business and government agencies so that we all just crack on. We deal with the threat but more importantly we realise the benefits these technologies can bring,” he told the AM program.

“We shouldn’t let cyber risk get in the way. Indeed we need to convert risk and potential fear into opportunities for us as a nation because the better we can handle this the more competitive we’ll be with countries that are less capable.”

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