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IBM sets up security centre in Canberra

IBM leads the charge as large private businesses invest heavily in security resources across Australia in an attempt to close the security gap

IBM is the latest in a long line of companies to set up security centres or alliances in Australia in a bid to beef up the nation’s cyber security capability.

IBM announced it will set up its cyber security centre in Canberra. It will form part of its network of more than a dozen such centres around the world and adds to its computer security research centre on the Gold Coast. Kevin Zuccato, formerly with the Australian Federal Police, has been appointed to lead the Canberra centre.

This development follows a plethora of both commercial and public security investments in Australia.

In June 2016, NEC Corporation – together with NEC Australia – announced it would invest A$4.38m in a Global Security Intel Centre in Adelaide. 

Also in June, the Australian Signals Directorate announced a A$12m injection into the Australian National University on a facility intended to spur the production of cyber security skills.

In May, Optus and Macquarie University announced a A$10m cyber security hub to provide research, short courses and consultancy services.

And in December 2015, Commonwealth Bank Australia unveiled a five-year A$1.6m alliance with the University of New South Wales intended to boost the number of security personnel available in Australia.

There’s a whole lot of activity, but the problems facing businesses remain acute.

Research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit for VMware in Australia found that most organisations had experienced an increase in cyber security attacks during 2015, with 29% of respondents expecting to be hit again in the next 90 days.

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Citing research from the Australian Crime Commission – which estimated the annual direct cost of cyber crime to Australian business as over A$1bn – VMware said senior business leaders needed to take the issue much more seriously.

Many of them are. It’s just that, no matter what security tools the industry throws at the problem, the black hats still seem to be winning. Speaking at an IBM event in Sydney recently, Westpac CIO Dave Curran neatly summed up the problem: “The bad guys are beating the good guys at the moment,” he said.

IBM itself is a target. Speaking at the same event, IBM global CIO Jeff Smith (formerly CIO for Telstra and Suncorp) said the company was taking a different approach. “Piloting putting cognitive into all our DNS logs to get signals early – find quickly and respond quickly. It’s not the scale of people, it’s the scale of thought,” he said.

If IBM can leverage cognitive computing and its Watson engine to help tackle the problem by identifying worrying patterns early, it could help organisations identify when they have been breached much earlier.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who was in Australia for the opening of the Canberra security centre, said cognitive computing would play a role in tackling security in the future, especially given global forecasts of a 1.5 million security staff shortfall.

Having a platform like Watson read blogs, analyse security incidents and attempt to make sense of it could be an important support, she said. .................................

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