Optus has invested $8 million to create a new Advanced Security Operations Centre, which it hopes will position the telecommunications giant as a leading cyber security player.
The announcement from Optus follows the unveiling of an $8 million partnership between the telecommunications giant and La Trobe University last week, which will see the organisations develop a new cyber security degree and create a new high-tech sports park.
Managing director of Optus Business, John Paitaridis, told The Australian Financial Review that cyber security was now the largest area of investment for Optus Business.
“We know that cyber security 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 new centre is one of nine global centres through Optus’ parent company Singtel and Trustwave, which Singtel acquired for $US810 million ($1.06 billion) in 2015.
Optus will provide a managed security services business as part of the centre, for which it has partnered with FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Checkpoint and Akamai to bring customers what it sees as the best cyber security products under one package.
“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,” Mr Paitaridis said.
“Organisations are looking for a cyber partner who can protect their devices and various digital assets … employee and customer data.”
The Optus ASOC will share threat intelligence with the other global centres (located in the US, Canada, Poland, Singapore and the Philippines) in real time, with the information on critical threats then communicated to its customers.
On top of cyber defence technologies, Optus will also work with businesses and government organisations to develop incident response plans and work with boards to help educate them about their responsibilities.
Earlier this month popular websites such as Netflix, Reddit and Twitter ground to a halt after a DDoS attack hit Dyn, a US company that helps people connect to websites by translating URLs into numerical IP addresses.
Mr Paitaridis said this DDoS attack should serve as a “wake-up call” to local companies.
“There are many organisations working with us that have DDoS mitigation strategies in place … but there are many that do not,” he said.
Responding to the attack last week, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, Dan Tehan, told The Australian Financial Review the country needed to be “constantly vigilant” as online threats evolved, and said information sharing was critical to this.
“Government, business and individuals are facing the same threats, and often the same adversaries, so sharing knowledge about threats and how to combat them will help strengthen everyone’s cyber security,” he said.
In the past year Optus has invested tens of millions of dollars in cyber security initiatives, such as the new centre.
As well as partnering with La Trobe University, the telco joined forces with Macquarie University, investing $10 million in the creation of the Optus Macquarie University Cyber Security Hub on campus to tackle the cyber skills shortage.
It has also partnered with Data61 on its Melbourne Cyber Security and Innovation Hub, which will create 140 jobs over three years, and launched the Optus Digital Thumbprint – an education program in schools focused on online cyber safety.
By: Yolanda Redrup
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