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New book reveals massive flaws in Australian cybersecurity management

By Mitchell Hageman, Mon 6 Dec 2021

Cybercrime has been estimated to cost the Australian economy AUD$42 billion, according to a new book released by a UNSW cybersecurity expert.

UNSW Institute for Cyber Security director of enterprise Nigel Phair has released the book titled 'Cybercrime in Australia: 20 years of inaction', which answers questions as to the state of Australia's cybercrime landscape and how problems can be addressed.

Spanning a period of 20 years, the book highlights that years of surveys have revealed the major problem organisations have with cybercrime, and Phair believes people still aren't putting enough effort into harnessing the appropriate resources.

"The past 20 years has seen constant enacting of legislation, yet this is not the answer and it has made no difference," he says.

In 2021, 67,500 cyber crimes were reported in Australia, but Phair estimates this is only about one-fifth of the actual amount of online crime.

He attributes the lack of police resources as a possible indicator of these case statistics, saying there are 300,000 cybercrimes committed in Australia each year and just 100 Australian police officers across the country dedicated to this type of crime.

Phair is also a former Australian Federal Police officer himself. Through his research, he estimates that there have been less than 300 completed investigations into cybercrime in the past 20 years, with only 150 being prosecuted.

He also says that the shift to a large portion of life being online has meant people and companies have had to be more aware of how they act and protect themselves.

"We spend so much of our time online, particularly via mobile smart devices, that the internet has become a fabric of our work and social lives. We are connected all through our waking hours (and depending on what apps we have downloaded, often during our sleep), and for younger people it is all they know.

"As such, we should treat the online environment just like any other public space where we may socialise, discover new information or participate in commercial activity. This includes ensuring there are appropriate police resources," he says.

Phair's career in investigating cybercrime commenced in 2002 and has spanned policing, consulting and academia, having worked both nationally and internationally. He says he hopes the book will provide an in-depth look at cybercrime in Australia and promote positive change to prevent further economic and personal loss.

"I have seen this crime type evolve and worked with many passionate people who try to make a difference, yet also seen the extensive damage which it causes governments, corporates and individuals.

"This book has been written to provide a retrospective look at the responses to cybercrime in Australia. Through the analysis of case studies; anonymous surveys of police, lawyers, privacy commissioners and cyber security consultants; and a wide range of statistics, this is the first analysis of how Australia has addressed the societal issues faced by cybercrime."

The book is available today on Amazon AU.

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