The Verisade Library contains information about cyber security and Australian business, including information about threats, current controls and best practice, strategies and white papers.

Business Continuity

What are the impacts of losing critical infrastructure?

An article in this month’s Australian Financial Review posits that an attack on Australian critical infrastructure is inevitable. How will your organisation fare if critical systems outside your control, such as telecommunications, fail?

Examples of critical systems that Australian businesses rely on daily include power, water, transport, telecommunications and banking. Although we all take these services for granted, an attack on one of these systems could impact your business’ profitability or, in extreme cases, its viability.

The AFR’s report notes that Australian cyber attacks to date have been focused on financial theft; however, recent activity in Ukraine illustrates that telecommunications are high-value targets because they are easily disrupted. This is an extreme example, but not one beyond the realm of possibility. What would you do if your web presence went offline, your email systems ceased to function and you couldn’t place calls using your VOIP phone service?

In November 2012 a telecommunications outage in south-west Victoria lasted 20 days and affected a region covering about 67,000 square kilometres. An analysis performed by RMIT University identified 85 schools, 20 hospitals, 27 police stations, 92 fire stations and 14 SES services affected by the outage. Twenty-four per cent of people surveyed about the outage said they were unable to conduct business and had to shut down during the incident. The state government estimated the outage cost the economy around $1 million a day.

This example illustrates how your reliance on other businesses and the services they provide can have significant impacts your own. Taking time to think about these issues now will help address significant issues later. Verisade has helped its clients grapple with these and other business threats, allowing them to resume critical business functions in times of crisis.