ASX 200 companies take heed: Telstra (ASX:TLS) boss says Australia faces ‘unprecedented’ cyber threat

Telstra’s top boss has sounded the alarm bells on the cyber threat…

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Australia’s top companies, including those of the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO), are likely having a moment of cyber self-reflection.

This follows a speech from Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) CEO Andy Penn at the National Press Club on Thursday. Mr Penn spoke as the chairman of the federal government’s Cyber Security Industry Advisory Committee.

ASX 200 companies greatest cyber threat

In the speech, Penn warned the rise of more sophisticated supercomputers and artificial intelligence (AI) could be one of the greatest threats to Australia’s cybersecurity. Telstra’s boss went on to say:

Because more abundant and better resourced cybercriminals, cyber activists, and increasingly involved in nation-state actors, means that Australia and Australians are quite literally under constant cyberattack

These comments are echoed by recent events. Australia has been suffering a barrage of cyberattacks. In April, we reported on the Reserve Bank disclosing millions of cyberattacks each day on Australian banks.

Moreover, the nation’s largest meat producer, JBS Foods, was brought to a screeching halt in June following a cyberattack.

These threats could be exacerbated by the advancement in AI and supercomputers in the years to come. Speaking to this, Penn suggested Australia has 5 to 15 years to plan for a time where today’s current encryption technology would become obsolete.

However, the telecommunications boss added, “careful consideration” was needed immediately.

ASX 200 shares have not escaped the past 18 months without feeling the cyber sting. Both Bluescope Steel Limited (ASX: BSL) and Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) have suffered ransomware attacks

ASX companies working in the space

We typically look to the United States court when talking about cybersecurity. Many big-name players including Crowdstrike are based in the States. However, Australia has a few of its own players right on its own doorstep.

While these companies may not be large enough to fit into the ASX 200 just yet, they are growing due to the activity of the sector. One such example is Tesserent Ltd (ASX: TNT), with a market capitalisation of $304.7 million.

As an example, Tesserent’s 12-month trailing revenue has skyrocketed over the past year. This value jumped from $7.77 million at the end of 2019, to $43.78 million at the end of 2020.

Additionally, an even smaller company working in the space is Archtis Ltd (ASX: AR9). This company provides secure information-sharing solutions to a range of government agencies.

These companies are clearly riding on the coattails of the industry. Specifically, both shares outperforming the S&P/ASX 200 Index over the past year. Tesserent has returned 243.7% over the past 12 months, while Archtis has climbed 79.4% over the same period.

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Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Telstra Corporation Limited. 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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