Understanding the future threat landscape
Cyber threats are coming at us thick and fast - just as we adapt and bolster our defences, cyber adversaries refine their techniques and technologies. For government employees in both Australia and New Zealand, this implies a constant need for vigilance which can feel overwhelming.
One looming challenge is the improvements of quantum computing. Its potential to break traditional encryption in an extremely fast manner means we may need to rethink our security measures. The other ‘new’ kid on the block - artificial intelligence (AI), is not just a tool for our benefit. In the hands of malicious actors, AI can automate and amplify cyber attacks – AI writing tools have already been used to impersonate for spear phishing campaigns after training them on real life communications.
Policies and compliance
To mitigate these threats, governments set in place policies and standards. This year, a new ‘Cyber Security Coordinator’ has been appointed to support the Minister for Cyber Security in coordination of new policy, government incident preparedness and the strengthening of cyber defence capability. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre has some guidelines here, and of course our downloadable toolkit is available for you here.
Being familiar with these new developments is not just about compliance; it's about safeguarding our nation's interests.
- Australia’s Privacy Act and the APPs (Australian Privacy Principles): This set of principles ensures personal information is handled responsibly. It covers everything from data collection to its storage and disclosure.
- Essential Eight: A strategy set by the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the Essential Eight provides guidelines from patching applications to restricting administrative privileges, all aimed at making systems more resilient.
- Counter Ransomware Taskforce: Australia (And New Zealand) has joined an international counter ransomware task force (ICRTF) to discuss threat intelligence and collectively defend against malicious actors worldwide.
New Zealand’s approach mirrors Australia’s dedication to cyber security:
- Privacy Act 2020 (New Zealand): This act reinforces individuals’ rights regarding personal data. It's akin to Australia's APPs but tailored for New Zealand.
- NZISM (New Zealand Information Security Manual): The NZISM offers guidelines and standards for government agencies to protect their information from threats.
Understanding and abiding by these policies and guidelines is not just a bureaucratic requirement. It's about ensuring that as individuals and as representatives of our nations, we uphold the highest standards of data protection and security.
Cyber security training and awareness: The first line of defence
While policies provide a framework, and tools offer protection, the most crucial line of defence against cyber threats is *you*.
Often, cyber adversaries target the human element. They rely on our moments of inattention or lack of knowledge. This is why consistent training and awareness are paramount. Government employees across Australia and New Zealand are encouraged to participate in regular cyber security training sessions. But beyond formal training, maintaining a proactive mindset about cyber security is essential.
Here are some simple tips:
- Stay updated: Regularly check for updates on cyber security guidelines, especially as the threat landscape changes. Sign up to receive updates and information so you can confidently champion any new guidelines.
- Open dialogue: If something seems suspicious, or you're unsure about an email or request, communicate. Often, discussing it with a colleague or supervisor can prevent potential threats.
- Participate in training: Whether it's a workshop, online course, or seminar, actively engage in available training resources. Our security awareness training is bite sized and very unobtrusive to work, if you’re not familiar with it, book a demo.
While it’s not just the government’s job to stay on top of cyber security, understanding future threats, adhering to our national standards, and participating actively in training will ensure not only our personal safety but also the security of our nations. A positive culture of cyber security is something to aspire to whether you are in government, private organisations or just an individual using devices daily.