Following an $8 million partnership with La Trobe University to help deliver a digitally connected campus and cyber security degree, Optus has today announced an $8 million investment into a new Advanced Security Operations Centre [ASOC]. This new centre is part of Optus’ plan to dominate the cybersecurity sector, which is now the largest area of investment for the telecommunications giant.
Managing director of Optus Business, John Paitaridis told the AFR the reasons for investing heavily in this space are simple: “We know that cybersecurity and cyber crime is a major issue here in the Australian economy … costing about $1 billion a year,” he said.
“We’re embedding cyber security into everything we do, be it our networks, internet services or gateways…our perspective is that as a major telco and network operator, we’re uniquely placed to support customers for distributed denial of service (DDoS) and other cyber advances.”
The AFR reported that the new centre is one of nine global centres being established through Optus’ parent company Singtel and Trustwave. As part of the centre, Optus will provide a managed security services business and has partnered with FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Checkpoint and Akamai to bring cybersecurity products together under the one roof.
“Akamai again has great DDoS capabilities, Palo Alto has some incredible next-gen firewall capabilities, FireEye is one of the leading threat intelligence organisations and CheckPoint has incredible mobile threat capability,” Paitaridis explained.
“Organisations are looking for a cyber partner who can protect their devices and various digital assets … employee and customer data,” he added.
ASOC will share threat intelligence in real time with the other global centres in the US, Canada, Singapore, Philippines and Poland.
In sharing intelligence, Optus is not the only company opening up its resources.
In June this year, ahead of its embarrassing census outage, IBM unveiled its plan to establish a new National Cyber Security Centre [NCSC] in Canberra. The centre aims to provide a place for government and organisations to collaborate on strategy and policy.
The centre will connect Australia to IBM’s international network of more than 12 security operations centres, which manage an estimated 20 billion cyber security events per day for more than 3,700 clients.
Director of IBM Australia and New Zealand managing director Kerry Purcell said, “To capitalise on digital innovation, we must ensure our digital infrastructure is secure and continuously evolving to stay ahead of today’s highly organised cyber criminals.”
The cybersecurity space has received a high level of interest, not just with Optus and IBM, but also with the government. In April this year Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new cyber security strategy, with a set of 33 new initiatives to respond to, and anticipate cybersecurity threats.
A total of $230 million is backing these new initiatives, which is a strategy Turnbull said will be important for meeting the dual challenges of the digital age: advancing and protecting Australian interests online.
“We do not view our security and online freedoms as mutually exclusive. To the contrary, they reinforce each other. A secure cyberspace provides trust and confidence for individuals, business and the public sector to share ideas and information and to innovate online,” Turnbull previously said.
This past year Optus has been innovating and sharing its ideas and strategies on cybersecurity with key universities. Along with partnering with La Trobe University, Optus has also invested $10 million into the creation of an on-campus cybersecurity hub at Macquarie University.
The Victorian Government’s startup body LaunchVic also awarded $450,000 in funding to Deakin University and Dimension Data to set up a cyber security incubator at the university, which will aim to help accelerate development of new cyber security solutions and intellectual property. The incubator will go hand in hand with a new cybersecurity degree set to launch at Deakin University next year.
Cyber security startups are also receiving strategic investment by large corporations who are looking to tackle key issues in this area. In August cybersecurity startup UpGuard raised US$17 million from Square Peg Capital, Pelion Venture Partners and IAG.
That same week Melbourne startup ResponSight raised $1.15 million in seed funding from Carthona Capital and Black Sheep Capital to expand internationally.
CEO of ResponSight Jeff Paine said, “Australia has had few security companies in recent years, so this round is testament to the Australian startup scene that we can do what Silicon Valley and Israel do.”
Image: John Paitaridis. Source: Optus.