Macquarie Telecom Group

Macquarie means business as major general takes security role

27 April 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Macquarie Telecom Group has appointed Major General Marcus Thompson AM PhD – the former head of the Australian Defence Force’s cyber warfare division – to its new government advisory board.

Thompson spent 34-years in the Australian Defence Force, during which he was inaugural head of the information warfare division (IWD), which coincided with Defence recognising cyber as a battlefield domain for the first time.

His latest appointment, as senior advisor within Macquarie Telecom’s newly established federal government advisory board, plays into several recent developments, from the firm's entry into government IT and data storage services – including IC5 in Canberra – to a rise in cyber-attacks on Australian businesses.

Thompson said: “Macquarie shares my view that cyber security needs to transform from a fleeting thought in the national psyche to an issue that is front and centre with the private sector, government and the population at large. In my previous role I’ve seen first-hand just how important cyber security is to every aspect of our society.

“The government’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 was a step in the right direction. It has put greater maturity into conversations about cyber security. Australia needs board members and executive teams to develop their expertise in cyber security further, and to cement cyber as a central business operational risk – one that’s mission critical to corporate planning,” he added.

Regional tensions, sovereign information

In March the Australian Federal Police labelled 2021 the year of the cyber-criminal, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) shared its prediction that espionage by nation-state hackers will surpass terrorism as the biggest threat to Australian security by 2025.

According to Macquarie Telecom, "evidence of regional tensions seeping into the online world" has formed the basis of Thompson’s call that "all levels of our digital supply chain can and should be resident in Australia".

In light of the current threat landscape, Thompson said there are three causes to prioritise: Australia’s national cyber security defence; moving Australia’s digital supply chain onshore to protect sovereign information; and building sovereign cyber capability to better support cyber defences, stimulating national economic growth in the process.

Thompson said: “The fact remains that most of the time we don’t know where our data is stored or who can access it. Much less the laws to which the companies storing and accessing it are subject.

“The risk this poses to our cybersecurity and data protection are very real. It necessitates the use of digital supply chain providers that are majority Australian owned and operated and subject to sovereign controls.”

Thompson said Australia should prioritise local technology, cloud and cybersecurity providers to cultivate local industry, create jobs and capability that will drive economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, "uplifting our national cyber security posture in the process". 

“The government is doing this with defence industry through major procurement of land and naval platforms. It should do the same in cyber where we are already served by local industry capability that is world-class,” he added.