CFOtech Australia logo
Technology news for Australian CFOs and financial decision-makers
Story image

Compliance and cloud making SME security more complex

By Contributor
Tue 19 Nov 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Ecosystm cybersecurity principal advisor Alex Woerndle

Security is always going to be a challenge for organisations because it is such a big field and one that is constantly changing.

It will be a particular challenge for organisations that don’t have a dedicated security professional on staff to constantly monitor the protective measures that are in place.

Even in larger organisations that might have a security team, it is difficult to stay up to date with changes in not just the threat landscape but also in the regulatory environment.

As banking watchdog APRA presses finance-sector organisations to tighten their IT security practices, a growing number of SMEs are suffering collateral damage.

APRA’s latest prudential standard, CPS 234, came into force on July 1 of this year with the aim of improving the resilience of regulated entities against cybersecurity threats.

It also places the onus on executives to ensure that standards are maintained.

To meet CPS 234 requirements, APRA-regulated organisations must be able to demonstrate the compliance of their entire supply chain.

This is where the pain is being felt by SMEs that are finding themselves suddenly required to meet enterprise-grade security standards.

A new level of compliance

APRA’s CPS 234 is just one example of an evolving global security regulatory landscape.

As compliance requirements continue to filter through the supply chain, they can come as a rude shock to a small business.

For example, an SME that might have been supplying goods or services to a bank or insurance company for years, is abruptly hit with demands to detail its entire security infrastructure.

Many SMEs report they are receiving questionnaires, some comprising hundreds of detailed questions, that must be completed and returned to their financial-sector client.

They fear that, if their security standards are deemed to be not up to scratch, they could lose the business.

Even if they can meet the required security standards, the job of completing the questionnaires is time-consuming and complicated.

Some SMEs are reporting that the questionnaires are typically very generic and not tailored to the goods or services they are providing.

For example, a small business might be supplying stationery to a bank but be required to answer multiple detailed questions about how personal data is managed, which may be completely irrelevant.

Aside from the questionnaire, SMEs that find themselves needing to comply with an official security framework will discover it is a complex and expensive exercise.

In many cases, the cost of doing so is likely to make retaining the client relationship unviable and so business may be lost. 

Reliance on cloud introduces potential new security challenges

Using a public cloud service can often give an SME business a false sense of security.

Many assume that cloud platforms are secure by default and any applications or data stored there will be impervious to attack – The Ecosystm Cybersecurity study finds that 54% of Australian SMEs that use the public cloud rely only on the security features of the cloud provider, and do not see the need to supplement them.

This, unfortunately, should not be the case.

While the physical data center of a cloud provider may well have a strong level of physical security, this doesn’t go far enough. Biometric locks on doors and redundant network links are great, but you need to take security further.

It’s important that users of cloud platforms design and provide appropriate levels of security for their cloud workloads.

You’ll need to have in place firewalls to protect external-facing applications and potentially similar protection for internally facing apps.

To assist with this, many security vendors are offering cloud versions of their security appliances that can remove much of the complexity and ensure high standards are maintained at all times.

The bottom line is that an organisation cannot outsource responsibility for its security.

You need to know where the line sits between security provided by the cloud platform and where your defences are required.

The primary threat remains the same

At the same time, the biggest threat faced by Australian SMEs remains ransomware.

In some ways it has dropped off the news agenda a bit recently, with data breaches being the more newsworthy topic, but there is no doubt that it is still causing massive problems. 

The bottom line is that most businesses cannot afford any kind of downtime and disruption.

Having a backup is great and, of course, every business should have a comprehensive backup strategy in place.

However, preventing ransomware attacks from happening in the first place should always be a number one priority.

The best way to overcome these problems is through better user education.

People must understand the risks and the steps they can take to mitigate those risks.

The compliance environment is driving newer mandates – which only means that these user education efforts should be continual.

Finding a way forward

For any SME that works in a strong regulatory environment, there are key steps that need to be followed to minimise these difficulties.

These include:

  • Don’t take a head-in-the-sand approach: The requirements of industry regulators, such as APRA, are not going to disappear. In fact, expect more industries to establish their own frameworks for privacy and security compliance, extending your potential exposure.  So, regardless of whether you have a business relationship with an APRA-regulated firm or not, recognise that it is going to have an impact on your operations and start establishing the basics to protect your business.
     
  • Become informed: Take time now to assess the implications and the measures you will need to have in place, to satisfy specific industry requirements. Undertake research on security issues and the best practices being used to overcome them.
     
  • Be transparent: There is little point in trying to hide the fact that your business is not compliant - doing so will only cause significant problems down the track. Be open and honest about the security measures and processes you have in place and are planning for the future. A good corporate client and partner will support you on your journey in numerous ways including expertise, penetration tests, external audits and access to products and solutions to make you more effective in securing their information – it’s in their interests to do so.|
     
  • Run regular, simulated phishing attack exercises: These will help you to measure how people within your organisation respond to potential phishing incidents. This can help make people aware of the risks associated with opening email attachments from unknown parties or visiting potentially infected websites.
     
  • Develop a security whitepaper: Creating a detailed written paper outlining the security controls you have in place can be an effective way to deal with requests from clients. They are likely to take some comfort from the fact that you have taken the time to carefully consider your position and have a strategy in place for future enhancement.
     
  • Reach out to an expert: If your business doesn’t have the internal resources needed to meet required security standards, consider employing the services of an external expert. An experienced security firm can undertake a gap analysis of your business and infrastructure and make recommendations on what improvements are required.

By following these steps, Australian SMEs supplying goods and services to regulated industries can achieve compliance with new security requirements.

They can also be more confident that their IT security infrastructure will be able to withstand any threats that might occur.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Recruitment
Thales on recruitment hunt for next disruptive innovations
"Recruiting new talent is part of Thales's belief in the power of innovation and technological progress to build a safer, greener and more inclusive world."
Story image
Sustainability
Honeywell named Frankston facility services provider
Honeywell has been named the joint facility services provider for Frankston Hospital’s AU$1.1 billion redevelopment.
Story image
Cloud
BT builds on Equinix partnership with new cloud offering
BT has launched a next-generation cloud connectivity offering extending its global network into strategic carrier-neutral facilities (CNFs) and building on its existing partnership with Equinix.
Story image
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Story image
Human Resources / HR
Honeywell launch third RAP in support of Reconciliation Australia
"RAPs provide a framework to leverage their structures and diverse spheres of influence to support the national reconciliation movement."
Story image
Digital wallets
NFTs are ready to disrupt the ticketing world
The last few months have seen NFTs wielded by digital creators to take ownership over their craft and content. Now other industries are beginning to understand the real-world value that these nifty decentralised tokens can provide.
Story image
Infrastructure
Global investment in data centers more than doubled in 2021
DLA Piper's latest global survey finds the total investment in data center infrastructure worldwide rose from USD $24.4 billion in 2020 to USD $53.8 billion in 2021.
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
The Access Group
Increasing headcount isn't always the best way to grow. A good financial strategy can help solve many issues, and The Access Group shares the secret to success.
Link image
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Macquarie Data Centres
Macquarie deal to pioneer CO2-cutting data centre tech in Australia
Macquarie Data Centres has signed a multi-year deal with ResetData, an Australian first provider using Submer data centre technology. 
Story image
Supply chain
Supply chains continue to be disrupted, enterprises embrace circular economy
“Businesses urgently need to find a solution that can help them to manage this disruption, and transition to a circular economy."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Stax and Consegna partner to accelerate modernisation
According to a statement, the new alliance will help both companies expand their reach across the region and realise joint goals.
Story image
Talend
Forrester names Talend Leader in enterprise data fabric
Forrester has named Talend a leader among enterprise data fabric providers in the Forrester Wave: Enterprise Data Fabric, Q2 2022 report.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Multi Cloud
Cloud is a tool, not a destination
For many years, “cloud” has been thought of as a destination which has led to a misguided strategy that sees an enterprise trying to shift all its applications to a single cloud provider – regardless of the specific needs and nuances of each individual workload.
Story image
Civil Defence
OutSystems platform chosen as part of ADF contract
"To be included in this project is a reflection of our ability to deliver secure, modern digital outcomes for defence at an incredible pace."
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Supply chain
Discover the 4 critical priorities for wholesale distribution businesses in FY23. Are you worried about how supply chain issues may affect your business in 2023?
Link image
Digital Transformation
Discover the 5 signs your business is ready for a cloud-based ERP. Is your business being left behind as more of your competitors switch to the cloud?
Link image
Story image
Telstra
Ericsson and Ciena, Telstra enhance service capacity for Telstra's optical network
Ericsson, Telstra, and Ciena have announced new enhancements to Telstra's Next Generation Optical Network, which will increase the service capacity of Telstra's optical network to 400 GE (Gigabit per Second Ethernet).
Story image
Accounting
Four factors to consider when choosing the right job accounting solution
Progressive job-based businesses can achieve success by strengthening their ability to quantify every cost attributable to the delivery of an outcome for a customer.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
The Access Group
Struggling to understand which transformative technologies will help your business? The Access Group provides a look into key opportunities and impacts for finance.
Link image
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Low-code
Appian unveils low-code certification program in Australia
Appian has announced a program to provide the next generation of low-code developers with access to education on the subject and certification to foster career opportunities.
Story image
Wiise
Four things wholesale distributors need to consider for FY2023
In a post-pandemic world, there are many things for a distribution business to juggle. ERP solutions company Wiise narrows down what companies should focus on.
The Access Group
Health and social care organisations are currently under significant financial pressure. Find out how financial transformation can help provide an effective route forward.
Link image
Project management
Discover the 4 crucial factors for choosing the right job-costing solution. Is your team struggling to cost jobs and keep projects running on budget?
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Siemens expands NVIDIA partnership for industrial metaverse
Siemens is expanding its partnership with NVIDIA to enable the industrial metaverse and increase the use of AI-driven digital twin technology.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Productivity
Discover the 5 ways your ERP may be letting you down. Is your current system outdated, difficult to manage, and costing you a fortune?
Link image
Story image
Airwallex
How Airwallex helps businesses achieve globalisation success
As markets continue to shift, businesses need to be able to provide the same quality of service for customers regardless of where they are located around the world.
Story image
Data Protection
Five signs your business is ready to move to the cloud
Many organisations are thinking about moving to the cloud. But what are the signs you are ready, and what are the reasons to move?
Story image
Management
MYOB snaps up Sydney-based management software specialists
MYOB has announced the acquisition of Sydney-based business management software and support specialists, GT Business Solutions.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.