Netskope named a Leader in the 2024 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge. Get the report

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Strengthening ANZ’s Critical Infrastructure Sectors Against Cyber Threats in 2024

May 09 2024

As 2024 continues forward, Australia and New Zealand’s critical infrastructure sectors face significant cybersecurity challenges. Critical infrastructure (CI) sectors–encompassing energy, healthcare, transportation, water, and communication–are at a pivotal moment in their evolution. The rapid digitisation of these sectors brings not only unprecedented efficiency and connectivity but also a significantly expanded attack surface. This evolution heightens the risk of sophisticated cyber threats. To ensure security and reliability, compliance with legal frameworks and regulations, like the SOCI Act 2018, is essential. Further to this, non-compliance with regulations, like the SOCI Act 2018, can lead to severe consequences including hefty ASIC fines, lack of insurance coverage, and significant reputational damage.

CIOs and CISOs across ANZ are increasingly adopting secure access service edge (SASE). Netskope’s SASE offers a crucial solution, providing a tailored, cloud-native security approach to meet these unique challenges and compliance standards, ensuring robust defence and risk management in this transformative era.

Securing Australia’s critical infrastructure sectors: why is this important?

As we progress into an era of heightened geopolitical tensions, critical infrastructure providers in Australia must stay informed and alert to the evolving threat environment. The need to continually enhance security practices is paramount as sector interdependencies can lead to significant economic, security, and sovereignty impacts in the event of disruption. 

Providers are tasked with adapting their risk practices within a broader national security context. 

This includes focusing on supply chain resilience, countering cyber risk fatigue, and being vigilant against sophisticated foreign threats, including targeted approaches against key personnel. 

Trends that CIOs and CISOs need to navigate include:

The Mass Convergence of IoT and OT

The internet of things (IoT) is becoming increasingly prominent across industries and most specifically in sectors such as healthcare, transportation and utilities. The convergence between operational technology (OT), information technology (IT) and IoT devices create an environment where cyber actors move laterally in order to infiltrate systems. 

Providers need to understand why they are a high-interest target and understand that malicious actors will be actively looking for weaknesses to gain access to valuable regional insights. 

Data Rich Smart Cities

As the implementation of IoT grows, cities are becoming digitised, data rich environments. Sensitive data will increasingly expose CI to new threat vectors that may not be under their direct control. 

Take, for example, CCTV footage of a provider’s main headquarters. If this footage is used by malicious actors in intelligence gathering, the CI entity has no direct control over the surveillance footage and how it is monitored. 


Cloud Leveraging

The escalating adoption of cloud services in the critical infrastructure sectors presents both opportunities and challenges. Cloud services enhance operational efficiency and flexibility, but they also introduce new security concerns. In this paradigm, where infrastructure and data are often stored with third-party providers, the security focus shifts from a traditional perimeter-based model to a more holistic, data-centric approach. This evolution demands that CI security strategies evolve to address these changing needs, ensuring the protection of data and systems, no matter where they reside.

Data Leveraging 

The majority of businesses are now using data to enhance various aspects of their operations. This includes cost reduction, process optimisation, and improvements in products or services, which in turn guide organisational decisions. However, leveraging data also carries inherent risks related to the sensitivity of the data and compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Therefore, while data leveraging offers substantial benefits, it necessitates careful handling to balance utility and risk.

ANZ Critical Infrastructure: A Unique Threat Landscape

Australia’s critical infrastructure (CI) is under siege. Recent government reports reveal an alarming uptick in cyber attacks targeting the nation’s vital sectors, including energy, healthcare, transportation, and communication. With an attack occurring roughly every six minutes, the urgency for robust cybersecurity measures has never been greater.

A recent paper by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) reported over 94,000 incidents of cybercrime in the 2023 financial year leading up to June, a substantial 23% increase from the previous period. Defence Minister Richard Marles has voiced significant concerns over this trend, noting, “The cyber threat continues to grow… we’re also seeing a greater interest from state actors in Australia’s critical infrastructure.”

This situation places immense pressure on CIOs and CISOs, who are tasked with not only protecting their assets but also ensuring compliance with evolving security standards.

Further to this, the integration of IoT systems across various industries presents new challenges. These technologies, while beneficial, open up additional attack vectors that must be carefully managed.

According to cybersecurity professor Nigel Phair from Monash University, “Cyber attacks against Australia will continue to rise until organisations start putting more effort into security and the risk management of their information asset.” 

Netskope SASE: Securing Critical Infrastructure in 2024

In 2024, the critical infrastructure sectors in Australia and New Zealand face heightened cybersecurity challenges due to increased digitisation. Netskope’s SASE solution effectively addresses these challenges with its data-centric security approach. This approach is vital for protecting critical infrastructure entities from the evolving landscape of cyber threats and ensuring compliance with stringent regulatory frameworks like the SOCI Act, the Essential Eight, and ISO 27001. By adapting to digital trends and integrating technologies like IoT, Netskope’s SASE solution offers robust protection against cyber threats while maintaining necessary compliance, making it an indispensable tool for CIOs committed to safeguarding their organisations.

For CIOs seeking to ensure their organisation’s compliance and protect sensitive information, the Netskope’s 2024 SOCI Compliance Rapid Review Guide is a valuable tool. It offers comprehensive coverage of compliance areas, enhancing the organisation’s reputation and stakeholder trust. 

Download the Rapid Review Guide here to continue on your path to compliance excellence.

author image
David Fairman
David Fairman is an experienced CSO/CISO, strategic advisory, investor and coach. He has extensive experience in the global financial services sector. In 2015, David was named as one of the Top 10 CISOs to know, and is seen as a thought leader in the cyber security industry as profiled by K-Logix.

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