United We Stand – Divided We Fall Security Threats on Australia’s Horizon By Steve Cropper, Industry Affairs Officer of the Australian Security Industry Association Ltd (ASIAL)
hese days the country is focussed on COVID-19, the looming threat of China and climate change but they are not the only security challenges the nation will confront in coming years. Cyber attacks, terrorism and civil unrest could rattle our world at any moment. Australia will not be equipped to handle future security challenges unless governments, business and the Security Industry work as a team to bring about much needed reform, collaboration and planning. That’s the frank warning in the Security 2025 Report, released on September 23, commissioned by ASIAL and conducted by the Australian Security Research Centre. The report examines where Australia’s Security Industry is today and identifies where gaps will have to be filled if we are to keep pace with the emerging challenges and threats in the near future. The report’s Head Researcher, Dr Gavriel Schneider said the key to Australia’s future security wellbeing is to move quickly to a more collaborative approach in which government, business and the Security Industry work together instead of in isolation. “Emerging technologies used by independent and state-sponsored cyber criminals increase the threat profile of key Australian private sector institutions including banks and key infrastructure but too many end-users of security are choosing to ignore the threat,” said Dr Schneider. “What is often referred to as Australia’s soft corporate underbelly has to be better secured if the nation as a whole is to maintain existing security levels and that requires a coordinated and well-planned effort by government, business and the security industry,” he said.
22 | Australian Cyber Security Magazine
To that end, Security 2025 recommends the creation of a Security Industry Coordination Office within the Home Affairs Ministry to facilitate rather than direct achieving national regulatory uniformity. Nicholas Martin is aware of what it takes to manage security threats. As well as being head of property and security at AGL Energy Services, he is chair of the Forum of Australasian Security Executives (FASE), a professional affiliation of chief security officers from major companies across fields including finance, aviation, energy and food distribution. He lists five big threats that businesses currently face: customer aggression, activism and extremism, digital disruption (including cyber security threats ¬– enhanced by COVID and the working-from-home dynamic), weather events, and internal threats (for example, from employees or contractors). How do businesses manage all that? Generally, it’s a three-pronged approach: internal management, relationships with government, and the employment of private security. “Most businesses rely very heavily on contracted security companies to provide essential frontline services,” Mr Martin said. And with so much at stake, it’s vital they make good choices. “Some companies just want the cheapest ...” Mr Martin said. “You want to do due diligence so you know who is protecting your assets.” Bryan de Caires, CEO of the Australian Security Industry Association Ltd (ASIAL), the peak body for Australia’s $11 billion private security industry agrees.