Concerns over cyber security are especially high for Defence, which is responsible for some of the government’s most crucial functions – from intelligence gathering and battlefield operations to disaster relief and collaboration with allies. Success is measured on secure, timely and accurate data for the warfighter.
Accenture conducted a report to understand how cyber crime is impacting government, industry and the Defence ecosystem to determine what can be done to improve their resilience. The report revealed that cyber attacks are evolving in terms of what they target and the changing methods of attack. The frequency of global malware and ‘malicious insider’ related cyber attacks are on the rise: per organisation there are on average 130 security breaches each year, yet 77 per cent of organisations do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan.
Agile attack methods reveal that cyber criminals are increasingly using ransomware, phishing and social engineering attacks as a path to entry. Meanwhile, a new wave of cyber attacks sees data no longer simply being copied but destroyed or changed, which breeds distrust.
In this environment, Defence and industry must adopt the following strategies to quickly identify and respond to digital security risks.
First, create strong cybersecurity foundations by investing in the basics, such as security intelligence, while innovating to stay ahead of the hackers. Counteracting internal threats remains one of the biggest challenges facing Defence. Increases in phishing, ransomware and malicious insider attacks mean that greater emphasis needs to be on nurturing a security-first culture. This means investing in training and education of employees to reinforce best-practice data security behaviours.
Moreover, agencies which operate within an ecosystem of multiple partners must collectively work together to ensure consistency in their approach to IT security to protect and defend their employees, data and operations from attack.
Second, enhance data measures and undertake extreme pressure testing. Defence should not rely on compliance alone, but should identify vulnerabilities to be able to outwit and outpace attackers.
To maximise operational security, Defence has historically built “siloed” systems with separate IT resources. New security technologies can strengthen overall security by reducing the risks of individual errors or weaknesses in each silo while ensuring consistent security standards across the entire Defence ecosystem.
Third, invest in technologies that reduce rising costs. Balance spend on new technologies, such as analytics and artificial intelligence, to scale value. A strong cybersecurity platform must be vigilant, fast and hyper-precise. Any entity dealing with an AI-enabled adversary can ill afford to rely on human-led defence resources alone.
Therefore, increase in levels of process automation to reduce the likelihood of human error during routine transactions and ensure the availability of accurate reporting. Furthermore, task automation will make it easier to establish common practices across Defence and to keep user activities transparent, measurable and responsive to changing mission needs.
Defence, like many other industries, is not alone and needs to approach cybersecurity with a mindset of continually evolving and adapting to new threats. Effective cybersecurity depends on leveraging new technologies with all stakeholders involved. This security-first mindset will help ensure Defence ecosystems can effectively protect their data and intelligence sources while also enhancing support to the warfighter.
Note: Chris Otley-Doe is Accenture’s Director of Defence and National Security for Australia and NZ, and Joseph Failla is Accenture’s Security Lead for Australia and NZ.