• 2018/2019 Cyber Security Survey Results

The BDO and AusCERT 2018/19 Cyber Security Survey: Response not just prevention

01 May 2019

Leon Fouche, National Leader, Cyber Security |

Each year, BDO in Australia and BDO in New Zealand, in partnership with AusCERT, measure organisations' response to the growing cyber threat. The annual survey identifies the current cyber security trends, issues and threats facing businesses across Australia and New Zealand. Results from the BDO and AusCERT Cyber Security Survey 2018/2019 are in, and with three years of data to draw upon, there are some great insights for industry.

The  2018/2019 survey found that there has been a genuine and extremely positive uplift in cyber awareness (especially at senior levels), although more work needs to be done to improve cyber incident response plans.

Cyber resilience does not just mean prevention

The 2018/2019 survey demonstrated a clear increase in cyber security awareness, a shift that has come primarily from the top. This is in part due to broader regulatory requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the implementation of the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 (NDB) in Australia in early 2018. However, organisations aren't just seeing cyber resilience as a compliance exercise - the survey found a genuine commitment to rolling out awareness training and cyber security risk assessments. The increase in risk reporting to the board is also a sign of this.

However, while a lot of resources have gone into cyber threat prevention, not enough attention or funds have been budgeted for resilience when a breach does occur.

A global threat

Even with the most sophisticated prevention measures in place, a data breach will occur at some point. According to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey 2019, cyber security is now one of the top global risk, standing alongside natural disasters and weapons of mass destruction. Therefore it’s important that every organisation has a pre-defined, concerted way to respond to cyber security incidents, and its capacity to execute that plan must be regularly tested.

A recent study from the Ponemon Institute’s recent Cost of a Data Breach study, the average cost to an Australian organisation for a single data breach is almost $US 2 million. The non-compliance fines imposed by the GDPR and NDB have made the financial cost of a breach even greater, and this does not include the brand reputation impact, which our survey found to be significant.

This means when a breach does happen, organisations need to understand how to respond. The survey found that proper planning and preparation for cyber incidents resulted in greatly reduced impacts to an organisation following an incident. Areas of focus should include the development of data breach response plans and the adoption of cyber insurance, as these controls can afford businesses the opportunity to minimise the impact of breaches while ensuring rapid investigation.

Although an increase in cyber security awareness is encouraging, the nature of cyber threats is also getting more sophisticated. As such, an effective response plan is essential for an organisation to be truly cyber resilient. To find out more about how businesses can build and maintain their cyber resilience over the long term, read the report in full.