Inaugural AustCyber Summit Reveals WA Has Key Cyber Security Role

07 July 2021

The inaugural Cyber West Summit, held on 24-25 June at the Pan Pacific Perth and hosted by the WA AustCyber Innovation Hub, in partnership with the WA Data Science Innovation Hub and the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub, proved to be a dynamic showcase for cutting edge cyber companies, and a timely forum for thought leaders from both industry and government. WA DEFENCE REVIEW was pleased to be the National Media Partner of the summit.

The objective of the summit, according to event organiser Simon Carabetta, was “all about putting cyber security squarely and firmly on the radar of our industry and government leaders.” He observed, “We’ve definitely started an important conversation with a number of sectors where cyber security needs to be addressed and acted on urgently.”

This urgency is highlighted by the fact that cyber-attacks already cost the WA economy at least $150m annually. It is not surprising then to learn that 95% of Australian CEOs now see cyber threats as the greatest risk to growth. The significance of the summit cannot be underestimated.

The 300 plus delegates were treated to a wide range of talks from 28 expert speakers, including politicians past and present, such as Assistant Minister for Defence the Hon Andrew Hastie MP, and former PM Malcolm Turnbull, along with tech and industry luminaries such as Alastair MacGibbon, Chief Strategy Officer at Cyber CX.

There was a real buzz on the industry floor, where more than 20 local and national businesses and organisations had the opportunity to exhibit their products and services, while also growing their networks. A hub for cyber start-ups was further evidence of the growing importance of developing skills and infrastructure in the cyber security area.

Day One commenced with an inspirational Welcome to Country from Shaun Nannup, a Whadjuk Wardandi Nyungar man, before MC T­­anya Finnie officially opened the event and invited WA Minister for Innovation, Don Punch to speak.

The Minister clearly articulated the summit theme of ‘Cyber-Enabled Industry’, when he said, “Cybercrime has no borders. We need to keep driving innovation in cyber security to ensure we are protected against growing global threats.” He added, “Building local capability and resilience is important for not only protecting Western Australian industry, but also to create new jobs and opportunities for economic growth.

Some of the day’s many other highlights included a forum on the Critical Infrastructure Bill and proposed amendments around cyber security, hosted by former Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, and a keynote address from Michelle Price, CEO at AustCyber, on the role innovation plays in protecting against growing global cyber security threats.

Numerous breakout sessions presented delegates with a high-level view of the summit’s key topics, such as the WA threat landscape, visibility into cyber attacks, and primers on data science. The day concluded with a keynote address from Dr Tracey Wilkinson, Director Stakeholder Engagement WA at the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub, who offered a case study on the crucial role of cyber security in med-tech.

Day Two was no less thought-provoking, starting with a keynote from Sophia Pace and Priyal Bhosale of Avertro, in which they shared the key indicators for success when creating effective cyber leadership in any organisation – the result of a recent study with leaders in the cyber industry. 

The Federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and member for Gellibrand, Tim Watts MP then spoke to attendees about the role WA can play in cyber security, noting that, “Operational technology in particular is an area where Western Australian companies are uniquely placed to succeed.”

Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie MP then addressed the Summit on the importance combatting cyber attacks – be they from lone hackers, criminal syndicates, or sophisticated state actors. “The networks we build together through industry and government are critical,” he said, “to defeating the networks online that are seeking to undermine our sovereignty and prosperity as a country.”

Another highlight of the Day Two was the Live Demo Showcase, in which five local WA cyber security companies demonstrated a capability with commercialisation potential. The showcase served to highlight the export opportunities for businesses in the sector.

Rounding out the summit were two significant keynote addresses.

Alastair MacGibbon, Chief Strategy Officer at Cyber CX, expressed the urgency of Australia’s need to build capability when he said, “If I only had one minute with you today, I would say that the cyber threat today is worse than it was yesterday and tomorrow will be worse again still.”

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull then looked at the rapidly evolving geo-political nature of the issue, noting that “Cyber security is not simply a national challenge, it’s one that transcends borders and, critically, it’s one that has the potential to strike at the very heart of our society and the values we hold dear.”

The inaugural Cyber West Summit left no one in doubt as to the importance of innovation and public/private collaboration in combatting these growing global threats, while also highlighting the key role WA is already playing in the cyber security eco-system.Looking at the broader significance of the event, Simon Carabetta reflected, “Cyber West is not just an annual summit. It’s a conversation that will continue through the various initiatives and projects under our hub.”

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WA DEFENCE REVIEW
Established in 2017, WA DEFENCE REVIEW set an important historical precedent by launching the first West Australian-based platform to support Australia’s defence sector across the spectrum of
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