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Accountants told to up their game on cyber security


As cyber security becomes an issue of national security, businesses must manage cyber risks as a part of daily business operations, according to one mid-tier partner.

By Lara Bullock 9 minute read

With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently raising cyber security to the level of national security, Australian businesses must understand that the risk isn’t going away and they need to adapt more quickly, according to mid-tier accounting firm RSM Australia.

“With the Australian Crime Commission estimating annual direct cost of cyber crime to Australia being in excess of $1 billion, businesses need to adapt and put systems in place to cope with the new norm of cyber crime,” said RSM Australia risk advisory partner Michael Shatter.

Mr Shatter said, now more than ever organisations must ensure their business systems and client data are secure from the risk of cyber attacks.

“Cyber security is like a house – there are many areas that need to be secured. Simply purchasing a security product doesn’t make a business safe. The underlying business environment needs to be secure. Poor foundations lead to poor security,” Mr Shatter said.

He noted three key things businesses, including accounting firms, must do to protect themselves from cyber crime. Firstly, make cyber security assessment a continuous process; secondly take control and use preventative measures; and thirdly, build security awareness into the organisational culture.

The rise of technology and automation has a major part to play in the increasing risk, according to Mr Shatter.

“Increasing digitisation means cyber security cannot be considered an isolated risk or something to relegate to the IT department. It must be considered a business risk,” he said.

“The board must be aware of and actively pursuing ways to mitigate cyber risks. These threats won’t be solved as a one-off project. Instead, businesses need to manage cyber risks as a part of daily business operations.”

However, he also highlighted the need to educate and train all staff members to prevent human error.

“Unfortunately, humans are still the weakest link, and many businesses are still failing to educate their staff about cyber security risks,” Mr Shatter added.

“Taking the friendly nature of humans into consideration, it is much easier for an attacker to ask someone to open the door than to try and break it down themselves.”

Lara Bullock


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