Cyber crime: A major threat - and a major business opportunity

Cyber crime: A major threat - and a major business opportunity

By NSW Minister for Trade and Industry, Niall Blair

Lack of cyber security is a significant threat to both our national security and to commercial activity on many levels. 

Yet tackling this menace also brings great opportunities for business. That’s why it is a priority for me as Industry Minister in NSW.

I’m also glad to see it’s a key theme at the largest business technology exhibition and conference in the Asia Pacific, CeBIT Australia, which again this year has the NSW Government as its official partner.

Along with the incredible opportunities it brings, the internet can also put us at risk. Many of the everyday services we take for granted are vulnerable to computer hacking, like our supply of electricity, food and clean water, and our transport systems.

Businesses big and small must be online, and of course many of our personal transactions are now done on the internet. This opens us all up to risks of fraud if we don’t take steps to protect ourselves.

I was recently concerned to hear of the case of a small business owner who manufactures and retails skincare products in NSW.

The owner returned from her honeymoon to find cyber criminals had cleared out her personal and business bank accounts and her Paypal account, racking up a debt of thousands on her credit card.

These crooks even used her passport details to divert her mobile phone, receive the PINs via SMS and then transfer amounts of over $25,000. Her business was hit hard as sales slowed while she sorted out the mess. It took six months for her to get back on track.

We need to do more to ensure businesses are ready to withstand attacks, and this is why cyber security also presents an enormous economic opportunity. The global market for cyber protection is expected to be worth $170 billion by 2020, with investment increasing at unprecedented rates.

Australia is in a prime position to be one of the leaders in cyber security with our well-educated workforce and strong IT sector. This is particularly the case for NSW, which is home to 60 per cent of Australia’s information and communications technology business regional headquarters and 80 per cent of mature businesses in the cyber security sector.

I am determined to see NSW maintain its lead. This is one reason why the NSW Government is committed to long-term sponsorship of CeBIT Australia.


NSW Industry Minister Niall Blair at Cyber Pitch@Parliament.jpg

New South Wales Trade & Industry Minister Niall Blair MLC addressing a recent Cyber Security networking event organised by the Department of Industry and Ribit


We are serious about cyber security and I want to make sure we maintain and develop this important emerging industry in NSW.

One of the biggest challenges will be to increase the number of professionals with the right skills and experience.

A study by Intel found that Australia is facing a 17 per cent shortfall in cyber security skills by 2020. The skills shortage has sent salaries through the roof, with reports of senior cyber security talent worth as much as chief information officers in leading corporations.

I am confident NSW can bridge this skills gap. The top Australian universities, of which NSW has more than its fair share, offer more cyber security programs than any other country covered by the Intel study.

Only recently I saw this talent in action – my Department co-organised a matchmaking event at Parliament to help encourage more graduates into a career in cyber security.

This remarkable event attracted 24 of the nation’s leading employers including IBM Australia, Google, Mastercard, Telstra, Optus, Microsoft, Westpac, Deloitte, Caltex and the Commonwealth Bank.

More than 120 of the brightest university students from around the state took part, in fields ranging from computing, the sciences, security studies and international studies.

The companies were offering opportunities for internships and work experience. They explained their work on cyber security before hearing five-minute pitches from the students. The event gave scores of students their first stepping stone into a new and exciting career.

We are also currently engaging with local industry to co-develop the NSW Cyber Security Industry Development Strategy.

As part of this strategic approach we will look at creating connections to encourage even more collaboration across the developing cyber security industry in NSW.

We are working on this with the CSIRO’s research unit, Data61, and a number of universities. We hope to expand our network of partnerships to include private sector businesses and industry bodies.

Cyber security presents a multitude of economic development opportunities and the NSW Government is committed to ensuring we have the skills base to cater for the many jobs of the future in this field. 

NSW Government is the Official Partner for CeBIT Australia. 

Cautionary tales: Cyber security and the Internet of Things