#Census2016’s (slim) silver lining

There’s nothing like a very public and large-scale cyber-related incident involving almost every member of the Australian population to focus the mind.

Despite the barrage of social and mainstream media criticism, the cyber incident against the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Census, being referred to by the government as a website denial of service incident, has a silver lining — it has exposed a lack of understanding in Australia around the role of sound risk management in cyberspace.

While the incident is a sore point in terms of reputation and trust, it provides a now very public opportunity for government agencies, at all levels, to take heed of the lessons the ABS will be learning in the hardest possible way. They are lessons that apply to any organisation with a website that is critical to the ability to do business. In short, this can happen to you too.

At a strategic level, these lessons are about understanding and managing the positive and negative risks of being online. Of course, denial of service attacks are but one type of cyber threat organisations need to consider. The risks posed by cyber threats against organisations will naturally vary depending on a range of factors including operational context, business strategy and structure, market behaviour and, arguably most importantly, cyber security posture.

Effectively managing risk in cyberspace reduces the cost of doing business, improves market and customer reach, enables the faster and more convenient delivery of customers services, additional opportunities to innovate, and the list goes on. However, if the infrastructure enabling your online endeavours is not appropriately secure, the positives cannot be fully realised, or indeed not realised at all. Further, if the infrastructure is not trusted, even getting out of the gates can be challenging.

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