Cyber security is an economic imperative. It is key to the protection of organisations of all sizes, to the personal data of our people, and to ongoing jobs growth and wealth creation. After all, a robust and thriving digital economy is built on trust.
The Australian financial services industry, perhaps more than any other, has the most to gain from a strong and innovative national cyber security eco-system. The sector has a more mature understanding of cyber risk than other industries, and with a major shift towards digital and mobile engagement with customers, now more than ever it has the motivation to invest and develop capability in this area. In many ways, the example of how Australia has backed fintech can be applied to cyber – particularly as the fates of the two sectors, and the economic opportunity they represent, are intertwined.
The unfortunate reality is that compared to other developed countries, Australia lags the world when it comes to cyber security innovation. The skills shortage, and the low pipeline of both talent and new startups, is a well-recognised problem within the sector. Unless we take action today, we risk being further left behind.
Like all eco-systems there are several key elements that play an important role and need to come together. From industry, government (particularly defence) and academia, to startups and investors – collaboration is key in surfacing Australia’s immediate and longer term opportunities in cyber security and to help address the resource shortages we have.
The good news is, it is not too late. We have the talent, our kids are just as smart as any other nation. We have a vibrant and growing startup and fintech ecosystem, and we have a greater interest in corporate Australia and government in innovation than ever before.
To get Australia up to speed, we need a multi-pronged approach. Cyber security is an applied problem and we need practical and industry-led solutions.
We have the opportunity to leverage the power of data-driven industries like financial services, to reframe the innovation opportunity for cyber security and to drive interest from our startup eco-system, top researchers and most importantly we need to consider how we foster the next generation who will lead the next wave of big cyber innovations.
Israel’s experience here is fascinating. Most of the country’s top cyber talent is grown through military training and experience during their period of national service – in many cases, often before they even attended university. This underlines how we cannot rely on traditional academic methods to identify and train the next generation of leaders. Rather, we have to reframe the opportunity in the minds of young people and provide platforms to help enable top cyber professionals that are mid-career to start their own cyber companies.
Most importantly, we need to create an environment where defence, intelligence, government and corporates are willing to work with cyber security startups and researchers to solve real problems, and to work with these startups to help create and commercialize new cyber innovation and solutions.
Taking a longer-term view is key and corralling around a higher purpose becomes the glue that is needed to keep us “on mission”. In less than a year Stone & Chalk, together with our corporate and government partners, are well on the way to helping achieve that for fintech in Australia. And there is no reason that the same cannot be accomplished (albeit at smaller scale) for cyber security.
Collaboration is the way, and fintech has a key role to play in the network that supports and builds a vibrant national cyber security sector.
Stone & Chalk and Data61 together with KPMG and the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce are partnering to design and deliver the first ever National Fintech Cyber Summit in Sydney on May 3rd as part of the first phase of the cyber security innovation program.
Alex Scandurra is the CEO of leading Australian fintech hub Stone & Chalk.
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