ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott says the majority of Australian businesses are hopelessly unprepared for cyberattacks, a mounting threat as the digitisation of society gains pace and criminals exploit vulnerabilities during COVID-19.
Mr Elliott said Australian businesses lost about $850 million from cyber-related scams and attacks last year and warned small-to-medium sized businesses were exposed to mounting costs if they failed to build adequate protection.
“Australian businesses are nowhere near well enough prepared for this. I would describe the position as woeful actually,” Mr Elliott said.
Mr Elliott, speaking at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event on Tuesday, said scams had increased by about 75 per cent last year as Australians work and interact digitally during lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Therefore we’re more and more susceptible than we’ve been before. Sadly, criminals have taken an opportunity there. People are under stress and more likely to click on things they shouldn’t,” Mr Elliott said.
“The good news is the general level of preparedness around cyber at the big end of town – banks, big infrastructure – is pretty good. The risk is really in the small, mid-sized corporate area. I don’t think many companies pay enough attention to this.”
However, Mr Elliott said protecting affected businesses from cyberattacks was “not rocket science” and the most important defence mechanism was staff training. “Our number one protection, our number one firewall is people. It’s people using common sense,” he said. “Does that transaction look real? Does that request for data seem legitimate?”
The comments come as the Australian Banking Association (ABA) this week launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness about cyber scams after releasing a survey that found 69 per cent of Australians deal with weekly scam attempts and one-in-three know someone who has lost money to a scam.