The Impact of Cyber Attacks on the Utilities Sector in Australia

Increase in cyber attacks in the last 12 months

I’m sure for many of us out there, the increase in online scams, phishing attacks, and just straight out shonks taking advantage of the non-technically literate is a real concern.

It turns out that this is just the tip of the digital iceberg. Entire nations can be the target of this growing industry.

Costa Rica for example has found itself severely compromised of late with hackers launching an unprecedented attack that affected 29 public institutions, including the ministries of finance, social security, meteorology, electricity, sciences, innovation, technology and telecommunications.

An American study published earlier this year titled: “Cyber Attacks Increased 50% Year over Year” revealed in late 2021 there was an all time peak in weekly cyber attacks, averaging over 900 attacks per organisation. Just let that number sink in for a moment. Over 900 per week.

In the study, it revealed that Education and Research were the most attacked sector (average attacks per week 1605 – up by 75% from the previous year) with Utilities companies not far behind with a staggering 736 attacks per week – up 46% from the previous year.

Local Impact for on Utilities Sector

How does this impact Utilities organisations here in Australia? And more importantly how do they respond to these threats, particularly as many have infrastructure that falls squarely under the auspices of the Critical Infrastructure Act.

This is not a simple question to answer.

Cyber Security risk is becoming increasingly difficult for Australian utilities and critical infrastructure operators to manage. Digital transformation is accelerating with, IT and OT landscapes expanding as these new security threats are surging whilst the demand for IT and cyber skills in Australia is at an all time high. Maintaining in-house talent, process governance and eliminating human error is more challenging than ever before.

One significant step SAP has taken is to establish the SAP Critical Data Cloud a fully managed service capable of powering the operations of government and regulated industries across both Australia and New Zealand. This is designed to help protect the core business applications of governments and highly regulated industries including financial services, healthcare and utilities. The platform is designed to meet the Australian Government’s Official: Sensitive and Protected information standards.

Opportunity for Utilities Organisations

SAP Critical Data Cloud is a significant investment recognising the increased focus on improving whole-of-economy cybersecurity.

Leveraging its work with SAP National Security Services (NS2), SAP Critical Data Cloud is tailored for Australian and New Zealand legislative requirements. It empowers public and private customers to rapidly and safely digitise customer, citizen and employee services, while remaining current with legislation and policy.

Utilities organisations will be able to wrap an increased layer of security around their customer data, asset and employee information to help protect against the style of attack seen in places like Costa Rica.

Learn more about SAP Critical Data Cloud visit our information page and download the report on Protecting Australia’s Critical Data.