Calls for cyber security boost in federal budget

Stronger cyber security measures for small and medium-sized businesses should be part of the federal budget following a raft of online attacks, an industry peak body says.

In its pre-budget submission, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) said a boost to cyber security measures would be critical in the months ahead.

The body has argued for a further investment in cyber security preparedness for small businesses as well as oversight boards and operational teams.

It has also called for a cyber security concierge service for sole traders and small businesses to help deal with possible cyber attacks.

Chief executive Simon Bush said the upcoming May budget needs to ensure all businesses will be protected from online threats.

ā€œThe Albanese government has an opportunity to ensure that Australia reaches its dual goals of being a leading digital economy by 2030 and a leading digital government by 2050 through strategic investment in technology,ā€ he said.

ā€œInvestment in key areas such as cyber security, AI and quantum will demonstrate the long-term view and commitment that these technologies will lead Australiaā€™s economic growth in coming years.ā€

The call for further cyber security funding follows large-scale attacks on businesses such as Optus and Medibank last year, which exposed personal details of millions of Australian customers.

More recently, 14 million customer records were at risk of being released following a cyber attack at Latitude Financial.

The company said it would not pay a ransom demanded by the cyber attackers, based on government advice.

The federal government is looking at making ransom payments to hackers illegal in the wake of the data breaches.

Banks and financial institutions are set to war-game future responses to major cyber attacks, with the threat of more breaches on the horizon.

The AIIA in its budget submission also called for efforts towards a national artificial intelligence strategy to be intensified.

Mr Bush said while $124 million was set aside in the 2021/22 budget for the AI strategy, many projects are yet to be allocated funding.

ā€œThe government must work to deliver these funds so key projects can be implemented with a clear focus on commercialisation of AI,ā€ he said.

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Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)

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