Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:26

Govt move to advance digital economy comes in for praise Featured

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg presenting the budget in Parliament on Tuesday. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg presenting the budget in Parliament on Tuesday. Courtesy Nine News

The Federal Government's commitment of $800 million in the budget to advance Australia's digital economy has been welcomed by cyber security firm Tenable's ANZ country manager Scott McKinnel.

In a statement, McKinnel said the budget, unveiled by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday, said what was particularly welcome in this allocation of funds was "the identification of specific measures, such as the need to upgrade the country's digital identity system, and the allocation of funds to help small businesses transition into digital and 5G, which will act as a rising tide to lift all boats".

"The warning for new digital services, or for businesses expanding their online presence, is that this investment always creates a target for cyber criminals," he said.

"Our research conducted by Forrester Consulting suggests that 92% of Australian organisations have experienced at least one business-impacting cyber attack in the past 12 months.

"This threat is especially pronounced in critical infrastructure sectors such as manufacturing and energy, which will receive additional federal funding to help modernise their technology."

McKinnel said the $1.7 billion investment in the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy, announced in August, suggested that the government was investing in a collaborative approach to ensure private sector expertise was utilised.

"As organisations transition further into digital, it's critical to remember that most cyber attacks occur because the basics aren't taken care of," he said. "The vast majority of successful attacks today are the result of known but unpatched vulnerabilities, rather than advanced 'zero-day' flaws.

"So while the onus still rightly remains on businesses to protect themselves, basic steps, such as taking a risk-based approach to vulnerability management, can ensure that organisations make the most of these new digital opportunities without reinventing the wheel on security."

Terry Burgess, the APAC vice-president for identity management provider SailPoint, said: "As digital identities become more difficult to protect, the introduction of facial recognition to access services like Centrelink is an obvious next step for the government.

"We've seen the element of disguise become a hacker's greatest weapon and stolen identities are now commonplace. However, effectively managing access requires more than just one layer of verification. The digital identity system must have a zero-trust strategy – constant verification across government services – to ensure identity and access doesn't hinge on the latest buzz solution."

Mandeep Sodhi, the chief executive and founder of AI mortgage broking platform Effi, said: "It's encouraging to see a $2 billion injection in R&D incentives. The mortgage broking and the mortgage sector overall is rapidly digitising and this program will help support its disruption and drive efficiency in the mortgage market.

"However, there's still no support for software-based R&D activities which is going to drive the next phase of growth for Australia. AI will be the key for driving productivity of Australians and companies like Effi will be investing heavily in R&D to develop the right AI solutions and compete at a global level - but this is only possible if companies like Effi can access R&D incentives easily.

"On the other hand, tax support for businesses and incentives for hiring are also good, as they are needed to help businesses sustain growth."

Carl Hartmann, co-founder of the intelligent hiring optimisation platform Shortlyster, said while the JobMaker Hiring Credit and the $1.2 billion investment to support apprenticeships and trainees were strong initiatives to boost employment, neither measure holistically addressed employment, with thousands of Australian white-collar workers, who could be utilised more effectively now to help further stimulate the economy, looking for work .

"The JobMaker Hiring Credit will be paid at a rate too low to seriously help any business pay the wage of a skilled worker, for which there is high demand for among small to medium businesses and this ranges from everything from tech engineers, accountants, marketeers, IT and business professionals," he commented.

"If the government helped subsidise new full or part-time wages for some time, we could get more people back into roles and keep significant intelligence within Australia.

"From our own data on the Australian National Talent Registry, we've seen hundreds of white-collar skilled applicants per advertised role, reinforcing the fact that this is a group we need to be helping back into work not just tradespeople and manufacturing."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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