MacGibbon leads US cyber mission

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Prime Minister’s special advisor on cybersecurity will join with freshly-minted Australian Cyber Security Growth Centre Network CEO Craig Davies to lead an Austrade delegation of 20 local companies to the United States in February.

The mission is the first of a series of cyber-focused trade delegations to the US that are being scheduled for 2017, and is the first such foray since the creation of the cyber growth centre.

The delegation will showcase Australia’s cyber capability at the 2017 RSA Conference in San Francisco, the most important annual gathering for the global industry. It marks the first time an Austrade-coordinated mission has attended the event.

Austrade’s New York-based senior trade and investment commissioner Nicola Watkinson says Australia enjoys a competitive advantage in the cyber security sector, due in part to the closeness of the defence and intelligence relationship with the US.

The US represents about 40 per cent of the world market for cyber products and services and is a recognised cyber leader, especially across the banking and finance, health, and government sectors.

Ms Watkinson said Australia’s membership of the Five Eyes intelligence grouping – which comprises the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – put Australia’s cyber sector in a strong position both as a developer and as a supplier of new cyber technology.

The Australian cyber industry is also the beneficiary of a line item in a Defense appropriations bill that recently passed the House, which will allow Australian security companies to sit alongside Canada and the United Kingdom as the only countries allowed to sell security products directly into the US Government.

“That gives Australia a very strong competitive position,” Ms Watkinson said, both as a supplier and as a potential technology partner to the government and private sector in the US.

The announcement follows the release a week ago of Austrade’s Cyber Security US Clusters Report.

Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco area holds the lion’s share of cyber technology investment, but clusters of sectoral excellence are spread across the country, with government, finance and healthcare hotspots on the east coast.

Ms Watkinson said Austrade expected to follow-up its February trade mission with smaller delegations that targeted specific industry sectors through 2017.

San Francisco’s Bay Area is a cyber security hotspot in the US and receives the most venture capital investment in the country. A total of US$12 billion (A$15.8 billion) was invested in the first two quarters of 2016.

Ms Watkinson said leading global cyber security firms Symantec, Intel, Palo Alto Networks, Cisco and FireEye all had headquarters in the Bay Area and also have established a presence in Australia.

“This provides Australia’s cyber security businesses with an added advantage. We are also assisted because Australia is a popular testbed for technology, as well as the home of some of the best cyber security research institutions, making us an attractive ecosystem,” she said.

“Beyond The Bay, other established clusters are found in DMV (Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia), Massachusetts (Boston), the New York Tri-State Area and the San Antonio-Austin Corridor.”

“US companies across finance, defence, critical infrastructure and healthcare are rapidly gearing up to address cyber security threats” said Ms Watkinson.

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