Global cyber security executives are descending on Australia this month, as a broad range of big global players identify Australia as a key growth region for the businesses.
Executives from companies such as Proofpoint, Fortinet, Forcepoint and Trend Micro are all touching down on Australian shores to meet customers and home in on Australia as a priority market.
Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Proofpoint chief executive Gary Steele said the company was experiencing “tremendous success” in Australia.
“We have a third of the ASX 100 as clients, so the focus has been on enterprises down to small and medium-sized businesses and we’ve had success across all verticals,” he said.
“The Australian business has been growing quite fast, faster than other regions around the globe. This is driven by what’s going on in the threat landscape in Australia.”
New research released by Proofpoint showed of thousands of email fraud attacks targeting Australians, the real estate industry was the most targeted sector and was nearly double that recorded in the US and the UK.
Equally in financial services, which Mr Steele said was globally the industry with most email cyber crime attacks, the attack frequency against financial services firms locally was 32 per cent higher than those in the US and UK and in retail it was 26 per cent higher.
“This is suggesting that the bad actors have seen success in their early efforts, they’re getting good results,” Mr Steele said.
“It’s very simply a case that the economic opportunity associated with success is driving their behaviour. Bad actors follow the money … and I think they will continue to pursue that.”
The findings from Proofpoint come after the second quarterly report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on data breach notifications revealed 242 notifications under the scheme from April 1 to June 30. The healthcare sector and financial services sector reported the most breaches. The real estate sector was not pinpointed in the report.
Like Proofpoint, Japanese cyber security company Trend Micro is also increasing its investment in the region.
In the past two years it has grown its local headcount by 15 per cent and invested $700,000 locally.
“Australian businesses and entrepreneurs aren’t strangers to the cloud. They have consistently shown their willingness to adopt the technology … but the velocity of adoption also exposes Aussie businesses to cyber attacks, as the vulnerabilities of cloud networks are making them a prime target for hackers,” Trend Micro chief cyber security officer Eduardo Cabrera said.
The chief executive of US cyber security company Forcepoint, Matt Moynahen, is also in the country this week and agreed that Australia was the perfect market to target because businesses were lagging global counterparts in their ability to keep up with the evolving threat landscape, but they were willing to adopt new technologies.
“Australia is admired globally for its appetite to adopt technology in its infancy – and its role as a test-bed for the latest technology products,” he said. “But it has surprisingly lagged behind international counterparts when it comes to addressing a fast-changing threat landscape.”
“It’s time to tear up the old rules and rewrite the next chapter of cyber security. The opportunity to do this in Australia right now is just too big to miss, and that’s why I’m here today – to challenge Australia’s security industry, business and corporate boards to make this change.”
Forcepoint research published last year revealed 97 per cent of Australian organisations did not have complete visibility over how critical data was handled.
Webroot senior security analyst Randy Abrams said the time zone was one factor that made local organisations a target for cyber criminals.
“Australia is the first continent to hit the new day, making them the first victims of new phishing campaigns,” he said.
“Another factor contributing to the increase in cybercrime could be a lack of ongoing training for employees. Only 32 per cent of Australian SMEs are conducting continuous training throughout the duration of their employment, with almost half (45 per cent) saying they only train employees once, either during onboarding or after a cyber security breach.
“As employees are often a business’s weakest link, this is an alarming statistic.”