Australia’s CEOs may not agree on many things, but when it comes to cyber security the nation’s chief executive officers are united…in fear.
According to a survey by PwC, released last month, 95% of Aussie CEO’s name cyber security issues as the biggest threat to their business’s growth outlook this year.
To combat this threat, 78% of CEOs in the survey reported they would be increasing their long-term investments into cybersecurity measures.
Cyber attacks go viral Down Under
Hackers have been around since the first days of the internet. But as the pandemic swept the globe it ushered in rapid growth in the digital world as people switched to working, shopping and socialising from home. And so too did we witness an explosion in cybercriminal activity.
Speaking at the Australian Financial Review Banking Summit last week, Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) head of institutional banking, Mark Whelan said cyber security was the biggest threat facing the banking sector. Whelan reported that hacking attacks had ramped up during the COVID outbreak, with ANZ hit by 8–10 million attacks every month.
Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) chairman John Mullen is also all too familiar with the potential damage caused by cyber breaches. Mullen is also the chairman of Toll Group, which was hit by 2 cyber attacks last year.
According to Mullen (as quoted by the AFR):
I can’t remember the time of day now, but you get those calls at midnight or one o’clock in the morning. We were all on deck almost immediately. We didn’t know for some while how far it had gone and how damaging it was, but it escalated by the hour. It was really scary and as a director you really have to look at yourself in the mirror and say: ‘Jesus, what could I have done to have at least mitigated it, if not stopped it?’
So long as we continue to increase our dependence on digital communications and transactions, cyber criminals will continue to try to find ways to steal or ransom valuable data.
But that doesn’t mean we have to make it easy for them.
This ASX ETF is battling the cyber security threats
While there are a number of small ASX listed cyber security shares, the biggest players in cyber defence remain international shares.
ASX investors seeking exposure to some of the biggest names in cyber security can consider the Betashares Global Cybersecurity Etf (ASX: HACK). The exchange traded fund (ETF) holds 40 leading cyber security shares, with the top holdings including Cisco Systems Inc, Accenture Plc, Splunk Inc, and Crowdstrike Holdings Inc.
Despite the soaring number of cyber attacks in Australia, and around most of the world, the Betashares Global Cybersecurity ETF has underperformed the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) over the past 12 months. The HACK share price is up 18% since this time last year while the All Ords has gained 30%.
With the majority of CEOs reporting their intentions to up spending on cyber security (indeed BetaShares forecasts global spending in 2022 to reach US$224 billion), the shares held within the Betashares Global Cybersecurity ETF could be the ones to benefit.
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Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Telstra Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of BETA CYBER ETF UNITS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.
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