The Role of Cyber Security & Digital Identity in the Modern Economy
While the connection between cyber security and Identity and Access Management continues to strengthen across Australia, it has become a keen area of focus for one of the country’s most influential leaders. I recently sat down with Malcolm Turnbull, the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, and ForgeRock Managing Director for Australia & New Zealand, James Ross, to discuss the opportunities and trends that are driving innovation and investment in the region.
Solving complex security challenges
Speaking to a virtual audience of ForgeRock customers and identity professionals from around the globe, Mr. Turnbull shared his views about the risks associated with handling cyber threats reactively. Globally, organizations are investing billions of dollars to reactively combat threats that can be delivered, in some cases, by a single skilled individual with an internet connection. The threat increases of course, with the investments that can be made by cybercriminals and foreign governments. The impact could lead to widespread disruption to our society.
The rationale behind Mr. Turnbull’s 2016 Australian National Cyber Security Strategy - which established the country’s first formalized approach to cyber security and saw an investment of A$230 Million dollars across 33 initiatives and the establishment of the national Cyber Security Centre - was to recognize the seriousness of cyber threats that was estimated to be costing the Australian economy A$7 Billion per year and offer a strategy to get on the front-foot in combating them. ForgeRock’s approach complements this thinking. So much of our work with customers and partners is to raise awareness that usernames and passwords are not sufficient. By bringing in behavior-based authentication and biometrics, organizations can quickly eliminate a major point of exploitation from hackers while simultaneously opening up opportunities for improving the customer and employee experience by providing users with a passwordless authentication option that is even more secure. Digital identity is now a critical part of overall cyber security planning and execution.
“Identity is trust and trust is identity"
People want to feel safe and secure when they engage with brands and services online. They expect their bank, healthcare provider, or favorite online retailer will keep their personal data protected from harm. No wonder then, that the tension that so many organizations are grappling with is how to make consumer experiences easy while putting the right security controls in place to assure people that their data is being well looked after. The ability to login using a single credential and get access to multiple services (through single sign-on or SSO) eliminates the burden of remembering multiple user profiles and passwords.
What is clear is that people are happy to hand over sensitive information to trusted brands. In turn, that personal information is used to authenticate individuals and provide access to services. As Mr. Turnbull highlighted, “Identity is trust and trust is identity.” No wonder then that, alongside Australia’s National Cyber Security Strategy, Mr. Turnbull was behind the establishment of the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), which explored, among other things, identity and access management. Out of the DTA has come Australia’s MyGov and MyHealthRecord systems that make government digital for citizens - both of which are built on the premise that authenticated identity is the cornerstone to streamlined access to services.
Powering new opportunities
Of course, organizations that use identity to create secure, streamlined digital experiences will find themselves ahead of competitors. Personalizing services for customers or citizens makes life easier and allows people to self-manage their accounts and services and has a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.
In Australia, this opportunity is being driven by ambitious government initiatives. Following the UK’s Open Banking program, Australia launched the Consumer Data Right (CDR) regulation, which will enable consumers to more easily transfer their personal information to competing companies. Aside from empowering people to own and use their personal data to comparison shop, the CDR will also enable vendors and third parties to securely access the personal information stored by banks, powering further innovation and customisation of services. Identity management solutions are a critical component in the success of the legislated CDR roll out.
The role of identity management is being further thrust into the spotlight by the COVID-19 lockdown, which has sparked widespread upticks in demand for digital access. In Australia, national retailer Woolworths reported a 320 percent increase in app use, while ANZ Bank saw a five-fold increase in the use of its digital channels and these are just a couple of relevant examples.
As Mr. Turnbull observed, digital is becoming the battleground for brands and organizations and for the public sector to provide better secured customer experience to its citizens and as he stressed during our discussion, “If we crack the digital identity nut, a lot of the issues we are facing will be mitigated.”
You can watch the replay of our virtual fireside chat with Mr. Turnbull here.