The peak organisation for local government officers has called on the Australian Government for help tackling cyber security threats.
A public sector risk report based on surveys of local government CEOs and general managers saw cybersecurity jump from eighth to second place in participants’ rankings of the 13 most prominent key risks for local governments between 2018 and 2019. The JLT Public Sector Risk Report 2019 was written by the JLT Group in conjunction with Local Government Professionals Australia
“While local government is the closest public service entity to the average Australian, it is also the least resourced to tackle cyber security threats,” said Local Government Professionals Australia President, Mark Crawley.
“Local government budgets are under increasing pressure with reduced revenue-raising capacity coupled with ageing infrastructure, increasing community expectations, and cost shifting from other levels of government.”
The organisation identified five ways the Australian Government could support improved cyber security, in its submission to the government’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy:
- By developing a minimum set of standards and compliance certifications or expanding the application of existing Commonwealth standards to local government.
- By increasing incentives and training in the recruitment of skilled IT workers in the cybersecurity field, particularly in regional and remote areas.
- By providing resources and training assistance to improve or deliver cyber awareness training for the broader local government workforce.
- Improving the ability to find the relevant material through filters or industry specific pathways to improve the functionality and uptake of the Australian Government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre resource site.
- Assisting in the identification and classing of critical infrastructure and then developing appropriate management plans to increase the understanding of risk and thus the security of this infrastructure.
Most local government senior executives are acutely aware of the risks and vulnerabilities in the cyber security space but there is a resource gap in defending against them, according to Local Government Professionals Australia CEO, Clare Sullivan.
“As the managers of critical infrastructure and the frontline service delivery outlet for most Australians, local government is in a unique position to protect public assets, but it is also a growing target,” said Sullivan.