The recently concluded Cyber West Summit that took place at the Pan Pacific Perth in Australia on 24 to 25 June 2021 was a session that brought together thought-leaders from industries and the government where non-technical approaches to cybersecurity and how it enables industries, enables economies as well as protecting people were discussed at length.
Consisting of 38 speakers and many notable keynotes speakers such as former Prime Minister, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull AC, Michelle Price, CEO of AustCyber, and Tim Watts MP, Shadow Assistant Minister Cyber Security, the Summit focused on six main themes namely Critical Infrastructure, Law Enforcement, Defense, Health, Education, and Data Science.
Cyber West Summit, according to many industry experts was timely and extremely important for everybody particularly in the current climate and with the spate of recent cyber security attacks targeting critical infrastructure, small medium enterprises, large corporations, and individuals as well.
Takeaways from the Cyber West Summit 2021
Amongst the speakers was Andrew Hastie, Australia’s Assistant Defense Minister who in his keynote address said that the internet is now the neural system of our lives – from news, to work, and to social media.
He further added that the effectiveness of Australia’s economy depends on the cybersecurity of their businesses, their research institutions, their critical infrastructure and their essential service providers. It also depends on all Australians feeling confident and secure to be active online. And this is more important than ever before.
Much of what was conveyed by Andrew Hastie are sentiments echoed by many across the globe. It was also discussed by Daisy Sinclair, CEO of Cyber8Lab and Shafique Dawood, Head of Business Development in Asia-Pacific at Group-IB, under the topic WA Threat Landscape (critical infrastructure). Group-IB is one of the leading providers of solutions dedicated to detecting and preventing cyber attacks, identifying online fraud, investigation of high-tech crimes and intellectual property protection, headquartered in Singapore. The company’s threat intelligence and research centers are located in the Middle East (Dubai), the Asia-Pacific (Singapore), Europe (Amsterdam), and Russia (Moscow).
Recently, E-Security & Privacy Channel, the media partner for Cyber West Summit had an exclusive interview with Shafique on cybersecurity matters. ESPC2GO is the news portal that is considered a pioneer in the Cybersecurity realm within the Asian region.
ESPC: During the CWS, what were the issues addressed?
SHAFIQUE: I addressed the Cyber Threat Landscape in Western Australia and deep dived into case studies about cyber crime and state sponsored activity that Group-IB Threat Intelligence team is researching on a day-to-day basis. I gave an overview of the critical infrastructure of current organizations and how they can strengthen existing cyber defense against large scale attacks with the likes of ransomware, APT operations to name a few.
ESPC: How important is cybersecurity post Covid-19 pandemic?
SHAFIQUE : Cybersecurity has never been more relevant. In the current situation where everyone is getting used to doing business and living online we are seeing an increase in cyber-attacks exploiting the pandemic in many forms. These include COVID-related phishing attacks and business email compromise attacks, weaknesses in the defensible corporate perimeter extended with employees’ home devices. Attackers are leveraging Covid-19 as a point of entry in organizations that have lowered their priorities in cyber security and are lacking in their defensive mechanisms.
The pandemic has exposed known weak points in corporate cybersecurity even further. Take email security. According to the Ransomware Uncovered 20/21 report, phishing remains one of the most popular infection vectors in ransomware attacks – 29% of all attacks analyzed by the researchers started with good old phishing email. It means that in 2021 your email needs better protection than just an antivirus, anti-spam or a traditional sandbox. You need to be able to block, detonate and hunt for most advanced threats with solutions that understand how threat actors behave.
ESPC: Do you think enough is being done to disseminate the importance of cybersecurity to the common man on the street and to society at large?
SHAFIQUE : Not at all. Awareness is important as human has always been the weakest link. It is imperative that humans are aware of the latest cyber attacks and how they can avoid being a victim. Group-IB has been conducting courses to inculcate skills and impart knowledge to people from various backgrounds, and the trend we observed is that there are many cyber incidents that can be avoided if people are more vigilant. Even regular employees need to be trained at least to able to spot a phishing email and known to report suspicious activities. For this you need regular cyber “fire drills” – regular security assessments and of course things like red teaming for security teams.
In addition to offering a range of cyber security courses, from cyber hygiene courses to courses and drills aimed at technical specialists to sharpen their incident response and investigation skill, we are also close partners with institutes of higher learning and Information Sharing organizations to promote collaboration and sharing of threat intel.
Cyber Security the Way Forward
ESPC: How can Cyber West Summit assist in the adoption of best Cybersecurity practices among the public and private sector?
SHAFIQUE : From showcasing innovative R&D solutions, to facilitating discussions among peers and the fostering of partnerships between industry leaders and the government, I have no doubt Cyber West Summit will play an important role in paving the way for future initiatives at a national level in Western Australia. When incidents happen, we, the leading private sector firms, are usually called first to respond. If at the customer request we are able to identify the individual behind, the law enforcement comes into play. Private-public sector partnership is crucial at a country level.
On the global arena, it’s crucial to have intergovernmental data exchange and legal cooperation in cyber domain, as cyber crime is border-less. They are taking advantage of geopolitics to escape arrests. Organizations like INTERPOL are doing very important work by building the bridges between different nations and organizations in cross-border operations to reduce the global impact of cyber crime.
ESPC : How prepared is Australia in becoming a regional leader in cybersecurity?
SHAFIQUE : There are lots of opportunities for Australia to tap on and with the increased government support and funding in the cyber industry in Australia and collaboration between industry players, thoughts experts on an international level, we hope to be able to contribute to the government’s plan to establish Australia as one of the global cybersecurity strongholds. Through the combinations of our proprietary solutions and services and the team of battle tested cybersecurity experts we will continue helping local public and private organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity posture.
Shafique Dawood, has more than 15 years of successful experience in top cybersecurity companies within the region. Group-IB is one of the leading providers of solutions dedicated to detecting and preventing cyber attacks, identifying online fraud, investigation of high-tech crimes and intellectual property protection.
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