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Aussies doubtful of Australia’s cyber response even before Medibank, Optus attacks

A study has revealed that Australians have been dissatisfied with the national response to cyber crime since even before the major attacks on Optus and Medibank.

user iconDaniel Croft
Thu, 24 Nov 2022
Aussies doubtful of Australia’s cyber response even before Medibank, Optus attacks
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While recent attacks have brought cyber security to the forefront of the minds of people nationwide, a 2020 study by Flinders University found that Australians were not confident in Australia’s management of cyber threats even prior.

The Resilience to cyber-enabled foreign interference: Citizen understanding and threat perceptions study surveyed 1,500 Australian citizens and focus groups made up of 62 people in three states.

The study found that “An overwhelming majority of participants are not confident that Australia is keeping pace with cyber-enabled interference and question the resilience of the political system in the face of such dynamic threats.

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“Many participants feel the government and related agencies are unprepared, and do not know who is leading the government response. Most participants think numerous government agencies are involved, although most responses were speculative.”

Dr. Josh Holloway, co-author of the study, pointed out that the public is generally unsure which institutions are responsible for the nation’s cyber security, which only increases distrust.

“Not only are these citizens concerned about the technological capabilities of government — often citing poor experiences using online government services but they also showed doubts about investment in skills and commitments to cyber security among businesses.

“Quite reasonably, they tended to have little awareness of which public institutions and authorities are taking leadership in managing cyber threats and collectively expressed broad scepticism of social media and tech companies, media organisations, the federal government and public service generally.”

During the study’s focus groups, individuals expressed that they believed nothing was being done to curb the threat of cyber attacks.

“There is no evidence that the Australian government is currently doing anything to reduce the threat of foreign countries interfering with Australia’s democracy,” said one woman aged 61-70.

A man, aged 51-60 similarly answered “I am not aware of the federal government doing anything to reduce the threat of foreign countries interfering with Australia’s democracy.”

In line with the focus group responses, co-author Professor Robert Manwaring concluded that the Australian public needs to be kept in the loop on what the government is doing if trust in cyber response is to be established.

“Australians need to be informed of the reality of cyber risk and given the tools and information to participate in strategic efforts to enhance Australia’s cyber resilience, rather than just hearing about the fallout of successful cyber attacks.”

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