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Investment in Digital Trust crucial for Australian economy, study finds

Digital Trust is playing an increasingly important role in the Australian economy, both in terms of enabling more investment and jobs, and reducing the risk of disruption to businesses around the country.

This is according to a new report by AustCyber titled Australia’s Digital Trust Report 2020. The report highlights the role digital trust plays in attracting investment and driving job growth.

Drawing on data modelled by Synergy’s Advanced Modelling Group, the report quantifies the value of digital activity to the Australian economy and the impact a cyber security incident would have on the Australian economy.

The study finds that a four-week digital disruption resulting from a significant cyber incident could cost the economy AU$30 billion, the equivalent of around 1.5% of GDP and an estimated direct loss of 163,000 jobs. This increases when loss of trust in digital infrastructure and data integrity comes into play.

The report also finds that digital activity in Australia's economy now contributes AU$426 billion to the Australian economy, up from the estimates of AU$315 billion made by Data61 and AlphaBeta in 2018. It also generates AU$1 trillion in gross economic output, and equates to 1 in 6 jobs in the national economy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period, the Australian Government injected AU$259 billion into the economy.

However, looking at online retail and the ICT industry, digital activity supported the economy through the lockdown period to the value of AU$230 billion or 12% of GDP, the report shows.

AustCyber states this data demonstrates the importance of cyber security as a horizontal sector in enabling growth opportunities across the digital infrastructure and data that underpins all other sectors of the economy.

The report highlights how Australia's economy is undergoing significant change as it transitions to a digital environment, and that Australia's economic future is founded in large part on the security of this digital change going forward.

AustCyber states that for the benefit of this transformation to be fully realised, including revenue and jobs recovery, Australia must invest in the means to secure digital infrastructure and data to assure trust and sustain efforts to reboot growth.

This will ensure all parts of the Australian economy that are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technologies have a solid base for market confidence and successful investment.

According to the company, it will create the conditions for Australia to improve its global competitiveness through the necessary digital governance that provides the foundation for minimising the disruptive incidences of digital intrusions that undermine our economic security.

AustCyber CEO Michelle Price says, “The COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid move to remote working and education, renewed focus on online business delivery and fast adaptation of supply chains using digital technologies.

“The quality of digitisation and its trustworthiness is now under immense pressure as the economy starts to recover from the pandemic. Focus and resources are needed to ensure the nation's digital environment is secure, resilient and effective.”

Chief executive of Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall says the report came at a critical time for Australia's recovery and building future resilience.

CSIRO and AustCyber published Australia's Cyber Security Industry Roadmap in 2018 to draw attention to the importance of cyber security to Australia, to create solutions from digital science that excel on the world stage, to grow our economy and protect our people, Dr Marshall says.

He says, “COVID-19 has accelerated our digital transformation, but we must strengthen our resilience with a sovereign cyber security industry to protect Australia's interests, and build the foundation for science and technology-driven innovation to rebuild, reshape and reimagine our economy and our future.”

According to AustCyber, a consolidated effort between government and industry is needed to preserve and evolve Australia's digital activities, while also ensuring it can scale and connect globally.