The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) has launched a new cyber security education program for directors and executives.

Developed in partnership with CSIRO’s Data61, the new cyber curriculum is part of the broader push to lift the overall digital literacy of Australian business leaders.

Launching the program at an event in Sydney yesterday, AICD Chairman Elizabeth Proust AO, said boards need to take the lead on establishing a culture of cyber security within their organisation.

“The culture of any business or organisation is shaped and guided from the top, so it is incumbent on directors and senior leaders of organisations of all shapes and sizes to ensure they have the awareness and skills needed to tackle the digital threats and opportunities we face in a digital world,” Proust said.

“Research on the governance of cyber security suggests that, at present, board executives have little awareness of the full implications of digital threats to their organisations.”

The AICD has identified a demand among its members for a course identifying and managing cyber risks — a recent webinar on the topic was watched by 1400 members, setting a new record for webinar attendance.

The course is designed to help boards better understand the key terms and concepts of the cyber landscape and their responsibilities in managing cyber risks, and the ability to direct their organisation’s cyber strategy.

“We are confident that the Cyber for Directors program, developed in close collaboration with the CSIRO’s Data 61 team and with the support of the Australian Government, will help bring about a new era of cyber literacy and understanding around Australia’s board tables,” Proust said.

“Boards need to recognise cyber risks as they evolve in all their forms, including the accuracy and integrity of information within the organisation as well as automated decision-making outside of it. Directors, CEOs, CIOs and IT Managers will leave this course with a greater understanding of the complex cyber ecosystem and the ability to direct their organisation’s cyber strategy.”

The course is supported by the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Strategy, which has committed to investing $230 million over four years to counter the growing threat of cyber attacks to Australia’s economic security.

Adrian Turner, CEO of Data61, said input from “frontline” practitioners at Data61 makes the curriculum unique.

“We sit at an incredible time in history where we’ve seen the converge of IT, material sciences, and IoT and that convergence is going to drive Australia’s economy over the next 15 to 20 years,” Turner said.

“We are going to scale our exisiting industries, we are going to see new industries, all of them are going to be data driven to some extent and cyber security and the ability to protect our industries are going to underpin that growth. If we do it well Australia will gain a reputation for being a trusted place to do business.”

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