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A Deep Dive into Australia’s AI Ethics Principles

“Ethics [in AI] is not just about getting the right answer – it demands that we are answerable to others, that we explain ourselves to them, that we listen to their response. It demands that we continue to question if our ethical decisions are right.”

Paula Boddington, author of Towards a Code of Ethics for Artificial Intelligence

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast transforming our world. It is infiltrating every aspect of our lives, from facial recognition software in airports to mental health chatbots.

As AI keeps growing, so are its opportunities and challenges. Two in three organisations believe AI can boost their productivity with The World Economic Forum projecting 97 million new jobs due to AI by 2025.

AI can streamline administrative processes in Healthcare, personalise learning experiences in Education, and analyse donor data for Nonprofits. It can assist in areas such as:

  • Inventory management
  • Customer chatbots
  • 24/7 hotlines
  • Meeting management
  • Invoicing
  • Talent recruitment
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Cyber security

Check out our article, 10 Key Opportunities & Implications of AI for Your Business, to explore more AI opportunities that could benefit your business.

With the widespread of AI use comes questions.

“Who’s responsible if AI goes wrong?” Most people (77%) think companies should be held accountable for misuse.

“Do people trust how AI is being utilised?” Only 35% of people globally trust how companies are using it.

This outlines the need for clear rules and ethical guidelines such as Australia’s AI Ethics Principles, essential to building trust.

 

The AI Ethics Principles: Your Guide to Responsible AI Use

The AI ethics framework outlines eight principles to guide the development, deployment, and use of AI. These are voluntary guidelines meant to inspire and enhance compliance with existing AI regulations and practices.

1. Human, Societal and Environmental Wellbeing

The key goal of AI systems should be creating positive outcomes for individuals, society, and the environment. It encourages the use of AI in addressing global concerns, to benefit all human beings, including future generations.

Also, as organisations benefit from AI, they must consider a broader picture. This includes positive and negative impacts throughout an AI system’s lifecycle, within and outside an organisation.

2. Human-Centred Values

AI tools and platforms must be designed to respect human rights, diversity, and individual autonomy. They should align with human values and serve humans, not the opposite.

AI use should never involve deception, unjustified surveillance, or anything that can threaten these values.

3. Fairness

AI should be inclusive and accessible to all, ensuring no individual is unfairly excluded or disadvantaged. This means actively preventing discrimination against any individual or group based on age, disability, race, gender, and such factors.

Bias can be avoided and fairness promoted by utilising diverse datasets that reflect the world’s population. Algorithmic fairness audits can also be conducted prior to AI system deployment, to analyse for signs of bias against specific demographics.

4. Privacy Protection & Security

AI systems must respect and protect individuals’ privacy rights, by ensuring proper data governance throughout their lifecycle. They should involve securing AI systems against vulnerabilities and attacks, or cyber security services to prevent sensitive data from being stolen or manipulated.

Also, organisations should only collect data that’s absolutely needed for AI to function; the less data you gather, the less privacy risk there is. Measures like data anonymisation can also be implemented, where personal details are removed.

5. Reliability & Safety

AI tools and platforms must consistently perform their intended functions accurately, without posing unreasonable risks. This includes using clean, accurate, and up-to-date data to train your AI systems.

It also means regular testing and ongoing monitoring. This allows you to catch and fix any issues promptly, ensuring the system remains reliable and secure throughout its lifecycle.

6. Transparency & Explainability

Transparency helps build trust and accountability, so AI decision-making processes should be clear and understandable. This ensures people can recognise when AI is significantly impacting them and understand the reasons behind AI decisions. Allow them a “peek under the hood,” with a simplified explanation.

Avoid technical jargon when explaining AI decisions. Use clear and concise language that the average person can understand. The goal is for them to grasp the general idea, not become an AI expert.

7. Contestability

This aims to ensure that individuals, communities, or groups significantly impacted by AI systems can access mechanisms to challenge the use or outcomes of these systems. This encourages providing efficient processes for redress, particularly for vulnerable persons or groups.

For example, if an AI system used for facial recognition at an airport wrongly identifies someone as a security risk, they can easily contest this decision and have it reviewed.

8. Accountability

Organisations and individuals involved in the AI lifecycle must be clearly identifiable and responsible for the outcomes of AI systems. Mechanisms should be in place to ensure that they can be held responsible for the impacts of AI, both positive and negative.

For instance, when an AI-powered software produces biased outcomes, the persons responsible for developing and deploying it must be identifiable and face potential consequences for it.

 

Ethical AI Through Effective Data Governance

Data is the lifeblood of AI. The quality, diversity, and security of data directly impact the fairness and effectiveness of AI systems. Therefore, your data privacy policies and implementation will hugely influence your use of AI.

Here’s how AI ethics and data governance intersect:

Data Collection, Storage, and Use

The AI ethics framework highlights the importance of collecting and using data ethically. This involves obtaining informed consent, minimising data collection, and ensuring data is used only for its intended purpose.

Data Security and Protection

Cyber security is essential to safeguarding sensitive data. Breaches can expose personal information, which can lead to discrimination, unfair treatment, or even identity theft. Data governance frameworks should thus address security risks and ensure compliance with privacy regulations. We’ve written a really helpful resource to help SMBs meet Australia’s cyber security compliance standards, check it out.

Data Sharing and Collaboration

The principles encourage responsible data sharing while protecting privacy. Secure platforms can facilitate data collaboration, research, and innovation without compromising individual rights. These can incorporate privacy enhancing technologies like federated learning (training AI models collaboratively), which helps preserve data privacy.

Privacy By Design and Default

AI systems should be designed with privacy in mind from the start. This means minimising data collection and ensuring individuals have control over their own data. For example, a fitness tracker that only collects anonymised step data by default can have options for users to share additional metrics if they choose.

By adopting these principles, organisations can shape data governance policies that build trust with stakeholders and ensure responsible AI development.

 

AI Ethics: Paving a Sustainable Future

Australia’s AI Ethics Principles provide a roadmap for responsible and ethical AI. Integrate them into your governance framework and you can leverage the optimal power of AI.

Do you want to delve deeper into the topic of AI and data governance? We’ve put together a comprehensive eBook that delves into the state of AI nowadays, a comparison between ChatGPT and Copilot as well as a bonus kickstarter guide with the steps to take for a successful AI deployment.

Get Your Free eBook

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Ensuring Data Security and Compliance with Microsoft 365

Did you know that having cyber security covered doesn’t necessarily mean that requirements for privacy laws are in place?

After a few years of major cyber attacks making headlines, we would hope that there is an increasing understanding of the critical importance of cyber security. However now, the focus needs to also be on data privacy.

Why?

  • Financial services clients want their data to be secure.
  • Patients want Healthcare services to keep their records confidential.
  • Donors to Nonprofits want their personal information properly handled.

Data privacy is about protecting people. Of course, all organisations wish for better security, but not everybody does what is needed for data protection. When it becomes an afterthought, it can lead to the impression that privacy and security are at odds with one another.

However, when done strategically, ensuring data privacy can lead to:

  • Trust and Confidence: When customers are confident that their data is secure with you, they are more likely to do business with you.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Non-compliance with strict regulations can result in hefty fines and legal consequences.
  • Competitive Advantage: Customers are becoming more concerned about data privacy issues, so organisations that prioritise it can gain a competitive edge.

An ally in your quest for better data protection is Microsoft 365. The leader in cloud-based productivity software provides a range of features and practices to help organisations protect their sensitive information. In this article, we’ll look at how Microsoft 365 can help to protect your organisation’s data while meeting rigorous compliance requirements.

Security Features in Microsoft 365

What’s in Microsoft 365 that can help you create a resilient digital environment? Here’s an overview of Microsoft (Office) 365 security and compliance features.

FEATURE*DESCRIPTIONROLEEXAMPLE
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)Adds an extra layer of security on top of passwords; users who log in must provide a second form of verification (like a text message or an authentication app)Reduces the risk of unauthorised access; even if a password is compromised, MFA prevents account breachesIf an employee’s credentials get compromised, MFA can stop criminals in their tracks.
Microsoft DefenderFormerly known as Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), shields against sophisticated cyber threats, including phishing emails, malware, and zero-day attacksScans attachments and links in emails, blocking malicious content before it reaches your inboxWhen a staff member receives an email claiming to be from a trusted client and ATP detects a suspicious link, it prevents them from clicking and thwarts a potential phishing attack.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)Prevents accidental or intentional data leaks, by identifying sensitive information (e.g., credit card numbers, health records) and enforcing policies to prevent unauthorised sharingEnsures that confidential data stays within your organisation, minimising the risk of accidental exposureWhen an employee tries to email a customer list containing personal details, DLP flags the action, preventing accidental leakage and maintaining compliance.
Information Rights Management (IRM)Allows control over who can access, forward, or print specific documents or emails, encrypting files and restricting actions based on permissionsSecures sensitive documents, even when shared externally, so that only authorised recipients can view or modify themWhen you share a confidential contract with a partner, IRM ensures that they can read it but can’t forward it to others without permission.

*These are all included with a Microsoft 365 Business Premium licence at no extra cost.

Staying Healthy with Microsoft Secure Score

Using Microsoft 365 Secure Score is like having a built-in security health checkup. It evaluates how well you’re protecting your digital assets, including data, devices, and applications. The better your security practices, the higher your score. Secure Score can recommend where you can improve, then you can create an action plan to implement recommended actions.

The Secure Score feature is included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium and available once you start using the suite. You don’t need to set up Secure Score, and you can view it in the Defender for Cloud Overview dashboard. The score automatically updates every day.

Some recent updates to Microsoft Secure Score can further enhance your security posture:

  • Phishing-resistant MFA strength is required for administrators
  • Windows Azure Service Management API is limited to administrative roles
  • Internal phishing protection for Microsoft Forms is enabled
  • SharePoint guest users cannot share items they don’t own

Compliance Capabilities in Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 supports these compliance standards:

  • ISO 27001: Outlines best practices for information security management systems and helps improve security controls and risk management
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Helps protect healthcare data, controlling access, and maintaining audit trails
  • Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA): Guides banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and other financial services institutions in outsourcing material business activities like cloud computing services
  • Privacy Act 1988 (Cth): Governs personal information handling by businesses, with Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) outlining how to collect, use, and disclose personal data
  • Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) Scheme: Mandates businesses to report eligible data breaches to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)

To monitor compliance with these standards, your IT expert can log in to your Microsoft 365 admin centre and navigate to the Security and Compliance section. Choose the relevant modules then configure settings and set up policies. If a standard is not available, you can contact an external IT professional with GRC capability to map out its requirements to your security policies and settings.

Key Compliance Tools in Microsoft 365

The features below can help enhance your compliance:

ToolDescription
Compliance Manager
  • Helps track compliance tasks and assessments
  • Simplifies complex regulatory requirements
  • Provides a quantifiable compliance score to track your efforts
Compliance Score
  • Quantifies compliance efforts across various controls
  • Measures your adherence to standards
  • Enables continuous improvement by spotting gaps
eDiscovery
  • Vital for legal and regulatory purposes
  • Allows you to search, hold, and export content for legal cases
  • Ensures compliance during litigation or investigations
Audit Log Search
  • Aids in monitoring and investigating security incidents
  • Tracks user and admin activities within Microsoft 365
  • Provides an audit trail for compliance audits

Best Practices for Data Protection and Governance

Here are some key best practices for enhancing data security in your organisation, particularly when using Microsoft 365:

  1. Prioritise data encryption, ensuring sensitive information is obscured from unauthorised access, even within Microsoft 365
  2. Implement MFA to add an extra layer of security, deterring potential breaches
  3. Regularly update access permissions, reflecting changes in roles and responsibilities, to maintain tight control over data access
  4. Conduct frequent security awareness training, fostering a culture of vigilance and proactive protection among your team
  5. Utilise Microsoft 365’s advanced threat protection features to guard against sophisticated cyber threats
  6. Establish clear data governance policies that define the handling, storage, and transmission of data, aligning with industry standards
  7. Engage in continuous monitoring and auditing of data activities to quickly identify and address any irregularities or vulnerabilities
  8. Embrace a strategy of least privilege, limiting user access to the minimum necessary for their role, reducing the risk of internal threats
  9. Back up data regularly, ensuring business continuity and resilience in the face of unexpected data loss incidents.
  10. Stay informed about the latest security trends and updates, adapting your strategies to the evolving digital landscape.

Microsoft 365 Compliance and Cyber Security Solutions in Brisbane, Townsville

Ensuring data security and compliance is a strategic imperative for modern businesses. At ADITS, we understand the complexities and challenges of maintaining those. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping you leverage the full potential of Microsoft 365 to safeguard your sensitive information and ensure regulatory compliance. Whether you are looking to optimise your existing Microsoft 365 setup or planning a new implementation, ADITS offers tailored solutions to meet your specific needs.

Contact us today to learn more about the cyber security services and compliance benefits in Microsoft 365 for your Queensland business:

TRANSFORM WITH MICROSOFT 365

Strategies for Cyber Security, Continuity and Emergency Response in Queensland Critical Infrastructure

Every Australian relies every day on energy, food, water, transport, communications, health, and banking and finance services. These essentials support our way of life and underpin our economy, security, and sovereignty. Therefore, disruptions to those critical infrastructures can cause significant, if not disastrous, impacts. 

 

Rising Risks to Our Critical Infrastructures

Cyber actors have been targeting critical infrastructures in recent years, like Medibank, Optus, and Latitude. More recently, an unauthorised network access occurred at DP World Australia, compromising employee data. It forced the business to go offline, disrupting their Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Fremantle operations; goods were stranded in ports for around 10 days.

For the FY 2022-23, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) noted 143 reports of cyber incidents against critical infrastructure. These were primarily due to compromised accounts/credentials, compromised assets/network/infrastructure, and denial of service (DoS). Meanwhile, the global trend points to an estimated hundredfold increase in attacks on critical infrastructure by 2027.

 

Wanted: A Strong Response Strategy

A response strategy is critical to ensure that your organisation is prepared to deal with cyber incidents effectively. It can help minimise the impact of an attack. 

Critical infrastructures are also required to have a formal incident response plan in place as per the regulations they need to comply with such as the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (SOCI). This law details the legal obligations for owners and operators of critical infrastructure assets, including notification duties and government support in case of incidents. The Act applies to these sectors.

Queensland for instance has outlined a Cyber Security Hazard Plan to mitigate cyber incidents with state-wide or national impacts, that can lead to a response strategy tailored for your organisation:

  1. Prevention: Understanding and minimising the cyber risks that could impact an organisation, the state, or the nation
  2. Preparedness: Reducing the consequences of an incident and ensuring effective response and recovery
  3. Response: Delivery of appropriate measures to respond to a cyber incident
  4. Recovery: Implementing post-incident strategies for recovering systems and restoring services

The strategy emphasies the need for the collective effort of individuals, community groups and organiations, local governments, businesses, the tertiary sector, the Queensland Government, and the Australian Government. This can be done through the Joint Cyber Security Centres (JCSC), a network to exchange information, collaborate, and share resources.

The ASD, via its Cyber Security Partnership Program, also works closely with businesses and individuals to provide advice and information about the most effective ways to protect their systems and data.

 

Best Practices for Securing Critical Infrastructure

How can you defend your organisation against cyber threats? Here are some best practices for the critical infrastructure sector.

Prevention: Your First Line of Defence
Find a Guiding FrameworkA robust cyber security framework can help you plot a roadmap for enhancing your protection. At ADITS we follow the SMB1001. It has a clear, step-by-step path and a tiered approach, from essential hygiene practices to a more comprehensive security strategy. 
Educate Your TeamEmpower your staff to be your first line of defence. Train them regularly to equip them for identifying suspicious emails, recognising phishing attempts, and reporting potential threats.
Secure Your SystemsProperly set up your digital shield, with firewalls, anti-virus software, data encryption, and strong passwords, which are essential for keeping unwanted visitors out. 
Preparedness: Be Ready for Anything
Plan for the UnthinkableDevelop a comprehensive cyber incident response plan (CIRP). Outline the roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols in case of an attack. Conduct regular tabletop exercises to test your CIRP. Ensure everyone knows their part. 
Stay InformedStay current on the latest and evolving threats and mitigation strategies. Subscribe to alerts from reputable sources like the ACSC. Knowledge is power – use it to stay ahead of the curve.
Collaboration is KeyBuild strong relationships with industry peers and government agencies. Sharing information and best practices fosters a collective resilience against cyber threats.
Response: Act Swiftly and Decisively
Early DetectionInvest in security monitoring tools to detect suspicious activity promptly. The faster you identify an intrusion, the quicker you can contain the damage and minimise disruption.
Follow Your CIRPBe ready. When an attack hits, follow your CIRP. Ensure everyone communicates clearly while carrying out their well-defined roles. A well-coordinated response will help you mitigate the impact and get your systems back online quickly.
Seek Expert HelpDon’t underestimate the value of professional assistance. When faced with a major attack, consider engaging a cyber security services expert to guide your response and recovery efforts.
Recovery: Bounce Back Stronger
Restore Normal OperationsGet your critical systems back online as swiftly as possible. Prioritise essential services and have backup and recovery plans in place to ensure minimal disruption.
Learn from the ExperienceEvery incident is a learning opportunity. Conduct a thorough post-incident review to identify weaknesses and improve your defences.
Keep ImprovingUse lessons learned to continuously ensure your critical infrastructure remains resilient. Consider new technologies and enhance your training and awareness programs.

 

Elevating Security with AI and Advanced Technologies

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now a cornerstone in fortifying cyber security for critical infrastructure. It can swiftly process vast datasets, identify subtle patterns, and adapt to novel threats, providing unparalleled efficiency and continuous learning. 

But AI isn’t the only advanced technology enhancing cyber security. Here are a few more:

  • Cloud Encryption, which can ensure data security in cloud-based platforms
  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR), with improved threat detection and incident response capabilities
  • Blockchain technology’s secure data storage capabilities can be leveraged for data integrity and authentication
  • Generative AI (GenAI), which can detect and respond to cyber threats in new ways

 

Your Next Step: Assess Your Risk Factors

With employees being your first line of defence, ensuring continuity and proper emergency response begins with identifying your human risks. ADITS’ free Human Risk Report (HRR) will help you identify domain impersonation threats and released credentials. You will receive a comprehensive report with some actionable tips as well as a free phishing campaign to test your employees’ awareness.

ADITS Achieves SMB1001 Gold Certification, Demonstrating Commitment to Cybersecurity Excellence

Queensland, Australia [May 2024] – ADITS, a leading Technology Solutions Provider, today announced achieving a Gold certification in the SMB1001 Cybersecurity Standard. This rigorous program validates ADITS’ robust cybersecurity practices and commitment to protecting sensitive data, both internally and for its clients. 

The SMB1001 standard is a multi-tiered framework designed to equip small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with the tools to strengthen their cyber resilience. ADITS’ Gold certification demonstrates a comprehensive cybersecurity posture addressing critical areas like access control, incident management, business continuity, and network security. 

“Cybersecurity is paramount for ADITS,” said Adam Cliffe, SEQ Managing Director at ADITS. “This Gold certification validates our dedication to protecting our data and empowering our clients to do the same. It reinforces our position as a trusted partner in navigating today’s complex cybersecurity landscape.” 

Championing SMB Cybersecurity

Beyond its own achievement, ADITS leverages the SMB1001 framework to equip other businesses with the tools they need to thrive in a secure digital environment. Their CyberShield solution offers a comprehensive approach to achieving SMB1001 compliance. 

CyberShield empowers SMEs by: 

  • Providing a clear roadmap: ADITS guides clients through the SMB1001 framework, ensuring a smooth and efficient compliance journey. 
  • Implementing best practices: ADITS’ team of security specialists helps clients implement essential controls and safeguards outlined in the SMB1001 standard. 
  • Ongoing support: ADITS offers continuous support to ensure clients maintain their compliant posture and adapt to evolving threats. 

By achieving SMB1001 Gold certification and offering the CyberShield solution, ADITS demonstrates its commitment to not only its own cybersecurity excellence but also to fostering a more secure digital environment for Australian businesses of all sizes. 

Learn more about ADITS CyberShield

How IT Support Has Evolved to Empower Remote Workers

The workplace has undergone a seismic shift with the adoption of flexible work setups. Gone are the days of rigid, office-bound schedules for a significant portion of businesses.

“The increase in hybrid or remote working represents one of the largest changes in Australian workplaces in generations” reported the Australian HR Institute, citing that 24% of organisations expect remote working arrangements to increase until 2025. 

This trend presents both opportunities and challenges for Australian organisations. The good news is that IT support has evolved dramatically alongside this shift. We have seen its transformation from a reactive, problem-solving role to a proactive, strategic enabler of remote work success.

 

Traditional IT Support vs Managed IT: From Patchwork to Powerhouse

Imagine juggling a dozen laptops spread across the state, each with its own software updates, security vulnerabilities, and user quirks. That’s the reality faced by many businesses, especially when strapped for resources, like Queensland nonprofits or smaller medical practices.

Traditional break-fix IT support has had its advantages in time, but it’s like playing whack-a-mole: You’re constantly reacting to issues instead of preventing them. Plus, you’re bound to spend more in the long run, slowly draining your resources. We explain this in detail in our article, Managed IT Services: The Smart Way to Escape the Break-Fix Money Pit.

Enter Managed IT Services: a comprehensive approach that acts as an extension of your internal IT team. Managed IT provides proactive maintenance, remote monitoring, and strategic planning. With it, your IT can be constantly optimised, allowing your team to focus on core activities.

 

Remote Work Risks and Mitigation Strategies

Having a productive remote workforce is awesome, but there are still some security concerns associated with it. Here’s a breakdown of the key risks and how managed IT services can help:

Managing Remote Access & Data Transmission

Ensuring security for remote access is vital, with employees accessing data from home networks. A managed IT provider can implement Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that encrypt data in transit. VPNs become the secure tunnels that connect remote user devices and your organisation’s network.

This way, John, a doctor at a regional Queensland medical practice who needs to access a patient’s confidential file outside of his office can safely collaborate with colleagues, regardless of location.

Managing Risks in Remote Devices & Networks

Unsecured home Wi-Fi networks and personal laptops also pose grave security risks. Managed IT providers with cyber security expertise can implement endpoint security solutions that monitor, patch vulnerabilities, and prevent malware infections on remote devices. Additionally, they can educate your employees and provide guidance on secure home network practices.

Managing Human Risk: Employee Training and Awareness

The strongest cyber security and IT solutions can’t replace a strong human defence. This is why technology providers can provide employee training programs to educate staff about threats and cyber security best practices. Properly trained and equipped employees can be your most powerful allies in the cyber war.

 

Cloud Solutions: Your Remote Work Toolkit

The key to remote work success lies in accessibility and seamless collaboration. Here are some cloud-based IT solutions that can be handy:

Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) Tools

How can you diagnose and troubleshoot IT issues on remote devices instantly? RMM tools can be implemented as part of your managed IT services agreement, providing remote access for IT professionals. This enables them to support staff and address problems as quickly as possible.

Picture this: An NFP social worker’s Incident Management app doesn’t want to connect and they’re unable to do their reporting as required by their industry. Traditionally, this would mean waiting for an IT technician or risking a DIY fix. With an RMM tool, the managed IT provider is immediately alerted, so they can remotely diagnose the issue and fix it within minutes.

Collaboration Platforms

Tools like Microsoft Teams elevate the way remote teams work together. These platforms often come with integrated communication tools such as chat, video conferencing, and document sharing. They can thus build a sense of connection and improve productivity even when staff are geographically dispersed.

Imagine a team of architects at a Townsville business aiming to brainstorm design ideas for a new project. Traditionally, this might involve scattered emails and clunky conference calls. But with a collaboration platform, the architects can hold interactive video meetings, share design plans in real-time, and chat instantly to discuss changes. This nurtures a sense of connection and collaboration, while keeping the project moving smoothly even though the team members are all working remotely across Queensland.

 

The Future of Flexible Work: AI and Beyond

The future of IT support is brimming with exciting possibilities with the increasing role of Artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace. From automated ticketing systems and predictive maintenance to chatbots and virtual assistants, the integration of AI and automation in IT support processes leads to faster issue resolution, improved efficiency, enhanced security, and a better overall user experience.

However, amidst all technological advances is the constant need to improve cyber security measures. As remote work keeps evolving, so do the risks we face. You must stay vigilant, adapting innovative IT strategies for a more secure and productive work environment.

 

Empowering Your Queensland Workforce

The shift towards remote work presents an opportunity for organisations to expand talent pools, improve employee satisfaction, and drive business agility. By embracing a proactive approach to IT support and adopting managed IT services, you can empower your remote workforce to be as productive, if not more, as if they were in the office.

If you want to thrive in this flexible work era, you need to transform your IT infrastructure and processes to reflect that. Find out more about ADITS proven process where we prioritise understanding your needs first so our partnership is customised.

DISCOVER MANAGED IT

Cyber Security in Education: Protecting Student Data in Australian’s Schools

Cyber security for educational institutions is more crucial than ever with the ASD Cyber Threat Report 2022-2023 highlighting the education sector has being one of the prime targets for cyber crimes. Schools must therefore strengthen their security and compliance measures.

 

The Rising Threat Landscape in Education

In recent years, the education sector has become increasingly susceptible to cyber threats. Australia saw a 51% increase in cyber incidents reported by critical infrastructure organisations, including educational institutions. A Check Point Research study showed a weekly global average of 1,739 attacks per education or research organisation.

With 90% of data breaches due to phishing attacks worldwide, students, teachers, and staff are also often targeted through deceptive messages.

Cyber-attacks on the sector are not random. They are targeted and strategic, driven by the potential rewards and the relatively lower security defences compared to other sectors.

Reason #1: Valuable Data

Educational institutions hold a wealth of sensitive data, including personal information of students, staff, and parents, as well as financial records and intellectual property. This data can be highly valuable for cybercriminals seeking to sell it on the dark web or use it for identity theft.

Reason #2: Diverse User Base

Schools and universities have diverse populations of students, teachers, and staff with varying levels of IT expertise. Some are tech-savvy digital natives while others are still mastering computer basics. Everyone needs training and support to ensure each can confidently and securely collaborate better.

Reason #3: Limited IT Resources

Smaller schools often face resource constraints. Staff must juggle multiple responsibilities, including network maintenance, user support, and security. Tight budgets limit cyber security investment. Some could have aging hardware and limited bandwidth. Schools must therefore explore cost-effective cyber security solutions.

Reason #4: BYOD Risks

Bring your own device (BYOD) allows students and staff to use personal devices for learning, but also present security risks:

  • Personal devices may lack proper security measures.
  • Sensitive information can leak if devices are compromised.
  • Infected devices can spread malware within the school network.

Schools can manage BYOD risks by:

  1. Establishing clear policies and guidelines for acceptable device usage
  2. Implementing network segmentation, isolating BYOD devices from critical systems
  3. Adopting mobile device management (MDM) solutions to enforce security policies
  4. Enforcing regular audits to assess compliance and address vulnerabilities

 

Impact on the Sector

Successful attacks disrupt operations and put student data, including personal and academic records, at risk. This undermines privacy and trust, leading to potential identity theft, financial fraud, and emotional distress.

 

Technological Innovation in Education

The rapid shift to digital learning environments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has increased the attack surface for cybercriminals. With more devices connected to school networks and the use of various online platforms, there are more opportunities for vulnerabilities making cyber security solutions an all-time priority.

Remote Learning Platforms

Online learning platforms have bridged geographical and time boundaries. Students in any location now have access to the same kind of education. There are live online sessions, shared cloud resources, and virtual interaction. Platforms like Microsoft Teams for Education are boosting collaboration and engagement.

Digital Learning Tools

The sector has also benefitted from the proliferation of digital tools. Interactive whiteboards are replacing traditional chalkboards, allowing dynamic lessons and easier understanding of complex concepts.

Adaptive learning software enable personalised learning pathways. They can analyse student performance and adjust content accordingly. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are also transporting students beyond textbooks.

Increased Reliance on Technology

Technology has become integral to the educational journey. Laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi are now lifelines for learning. Teachers are harnessing digital tools to create more engaging content and enhance teaching methodologies.

Educators have shifted from traditional lectures to student-centred learning – facilitating discussions, encouraging critical thinking, and guiding students. Students are empowered by technology to collaborate, create, and explore.

 

Australian Laws and Regulations

As schools chart a course toward safer digital horizons, they must also comply with relevant regulations.

The Privacy Act 1988

The Privacy Act covers private schools, except those that fall within the small business exemption or do not provide health services (e.g., physical education classes, nursing services). The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) prescribe how schools must:

  • Have data privacy procedures, practices, and systems to ensure compliance
  • Handle personal data transparently, ensuring consent, accuracy, and security
  • Demonstrate accountability by promptly addressing queries and complaints

Apart from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), government schools are not directly covered by the Privacy Act. They fall under state or territory privacy legislation or schemes. In Queensland, for example, the transfer of personal information between schools without consent is allowed before enrolment in a new school.

The Australian Education Act 2013

The Australian Education Act governs Commonwealth funding to both government and non-government schools. It specifies specific requirements to receive Australian Government funding for school education, covering student data protection, educational reforms, and financial accountability. Schools are required to manage student data prudently and proactively while fulfilling their educational mission.

 

Best Practices for Cyber Security in Schools

Safeguarding digital learning environments is highly important today. Educators are responsible for protecting their students, staff, and sensitive data from cyber threats. Below are some best practices:

Password Hygiene

Educate students, teachers, and administrators – everyone in your school community — to create strong, unique passwords.

  • Combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Never reveal a password to anybody
  • Encourage regular password updates or implement a password expiration policy

Data Encryption

All sensitive information (e.g., student records, financial data, and research findings), must be encrypted. Encryption ensures that even if data falls into the wrong hands, it remains unreadable. Consult with your IT provider about the different industry-standard encryption methods such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), Full Disk Encryption (FDE) and File-Level Encryption.

Incident Response Plan

Swift action is crucial when a breach occurs. Handling security incidents starts with preparing a well-defined incident response plan, which should include:

  • Designated Incident Response Team: Identify key personnel responsible for handling incidents.
  • Communication Protocol: Establish clear lines of communication during an incident.
  • Containment and Recovery Steps: Consult with your IT support team to outline the steps to isolate the breach and restore normal operations in your school.
  • Legal and Reporting Obligations: Understand our legal responsibilities and reporting requirements.

These best practices can help your school become more cyber resilient. Just remember that it’s not just about technology but also about building a culture of vigilance and responsibility.

 

Cyber Security Training for Education Sector Leaders

If you’re not sure where to start with fostering a cyber aware culture in your school or university, ADITS conducts tailored cyber security training sessions for boards and school executives. Kindly fill up the form below:

ADITS and Assuredly Partner to Streamline Privacy Act Compliance

Queensland, Australia [May 2024] – Managed IT & Cybersecurity solutions provider ADITS announced today a strategic partnership with Australian start-up Assuredly, the all-in-one platform for managing cybersecurity controls.  

The collaboration exclusively allows ADITS to manage their clients’ compliance with the Privacy Act inside of Assuredly. This will streamline their customers complex cybersecurity, compliance and reporting processes. 

Dashboard

Evolving Cybersecurity Challenges

Our digital reliance increases more and more every day,” says Adam Cliffe, ADITS SEQ Managing Director. This gives more opportunities to cyber criminals to penetrate IT systems and access sensitive information. It is the responsibility of the business to protect the data they handle. And our partnership with Assuredly combined with our comprehensive CyberShield solution can certainly help organisations do that. 

The Assuredly platform has a user-friendly interface to review, evaluate, and demonstrate adherence to cybersecurity frameworks such as: 

  • SMB 1001 – a multi-tiered framework designed for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) 
  • ISO 27001 – the leading international standard focused on information security
  • Essential Eight – cyber protection strategies recommended by the Australian government 
  • NIST CSF (National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework) – a comprehensive reporting framework for mitigating organisational cybersecurity risks
  • SOC2 Assessment – examines an organisation’s internal control environment related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, or privacy 

New in the platform, and exclusively for ADITS, Assuredly now includes the Privacy Act Reasonable Steps.  

Did you know that even if you have completed a 27001 or NIST CSF Assessment and Certification you will have only covered 50% of the reasonable steps suggested by the OAIC? This indicates a clear need for businesses to take Privacy assessments as seriously as they take their security assessments. 

Exclusive Privacy Act Component

The integration of the Privacy Act for ADITS is groundbreaking. This unique feature can help assist businesses comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) while also build an effective cyber security defence. It stems from ADITS’ shared vision with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Cyber Security Certification Australia (CSCAU) to improve the cyber resilience of the Australian community. 

This is a significant milestone for ADITS as we play our role supporting the Australian government’s vision to be a world leader in cyber security by 2030,
continues Adam Cliffe.

We’re excited to team up with ADITS and enhance our platform to meet the unique needs of Australian organisations under the Privacy Act,” says Fiona Long, Assuredly Founder and CEO. “The general public can trust that businesses prioritising the privacy and security of stakeholders’ sensitive data are committed to upholding their trust and confidentiality. This partnership between Assuredly and ADITS exemplifies our dedication to this mission.

The Privacy Act 1988 regulates how organisations handle personal information, with standards for collecting, using, and securing data. Compliance with this law is mandatory for most organisations nowadays (Learn more in this article: Navigating Cyber Security Compliance and Regulations: Essential 8 vs. Privacy Act). 

Moving Forward with Confidence

By adopting robust cybersecurity practices, businesses can significantly reduce their risk of data breaches and associated financial and reputational damage. They can also demonstrate a commitment to data protection, which fosters trust and confidence amongst customers and stakeholders. 

At ADITS, we are committed to finding new and innovative solutions that can provide businesses with the best options to safeguard their data and assets,” says Adam. “This partnership with Assuredly is a great move forward in our efforts to stay ahead of the curve in cybersecurity.

By leveraging the Assuredly platform and ADITS’ cybersecurity expertise, businesses can be more confident in facing the complexities of compliance and data protection. They can then focus on their core operations because they know their sensitive data is well-protected.

 

About ADITS

ADITS is a technology solutions provider based in Queensland, with a mission to help businesses of all sizes achieve their cybersecurity goals. They offer a comprehensive suite of Managed IT and Cybersecurity services. 

 

About Assuredly

assuredly

Assuredly is the all-in-one platform that helps businesses of all sizes easily review their cyber security controls, get real-time results automatically mapped to many global standards and be audit ready. It automates evidence collection, simplifies control assessment, and provides real-time results mapped to key frameworks. 

 

Media Enquiries 

B2Me Marketing 

07 5606 4050 

media@B2Me.Marketing 

 

Resources 

Board & Executive Cyber Security & Compliance Training 

Importance of Data Privacy for Queensland NFPs 

Meeting Australia’s Cyber Security Compliance Standards 

Privacy Act Review 

Navigating Cyber Security Compliance and Regulations 

ADITS Certified Great Place to Work for 3 Years in a Row!

We’re proud to announce that we’ve been officially recognised as a Great Place to Work® for the third year running! 

This is a true testament to our teams unwavering commitment to fostering a positive, supportive, and high-performing work environment.
says Managing Director, Ashley Darwen.

What does it mean to be Great Place to Work certified? Great Place to Work® surveys a business’ team members to assess factors like trust, respect, camaraderie, professional development opportunities, and overall workplace satisfaction

All-time High Satisfaction Rating

The survey reported that 96% of our employees think that ADITS is a great place to work. This is the highest rating for ADITS after it first got certified in 2022-2023, then in 2023-2024 and now in 2024-2025. It is also well over the 56% average for typical Australian-based companies.  

Their positive feedback is what truly makes this achievement so meaningful
according to Staci Yarrow, ADITS HR Advisor.

Here is what some of our employees have to say about ADITS 

I joined the ADITS team in 2016 and have never looked back. My role has continued to expand across all aspects of the business, which is one of the perks of working with a company that is continuing to scale. The number one thing I love about ADITS is the workplace culture. Everyone just gets along, which makes it such a great place to work.

At ADITS, I have the opportunity to work with a cohort of fun, professional, and outgoing staff members who encourage me to take on new and challenging opportunities. The flexibility that ADITS provides around personal and family life is exceptional. The managerial staff are absolutely brilliant at what they do and have an open-door policy to listen to all requests from employees.

ADITS has the office culture and tightly knit team that makes every day enjoyable. Being presented with new and interesting obstacles which are backed by training and learning paths has helped me to further my knowledge which I can then pass onto our customers. Staff are trusted to work autonomously and when strategies need deliberation the team is always reliable and available for a joke or three. My passion for technical details and market leading performance makes ADITS a great place to work.

To learn more about ADITS, visit our About Us.

The Power of Culture and Values in the Workplace

ADITS’ consistent enthusiasm fosters such a positive work environment. It boils down to a powerful combination of culture and values: 

  • Collaboration and Support: From day one, new team members are welcomed into a supportive and collaborative environment. Open communication and knowledge sharing are encouraged, along with teamwork, mutual respect, and a sense of belonging.
  • Professional Growth: ADITS recognises that our team’s success is our success. We invest in professional development opportunities, training programs, and mentorship initiatives. We love seeing each individual to reach their full potential.
  • Work-Life Balance: We understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Our flexible working arrangements and commitment to employee wellbeing allow our team to thrive both professionally and personally.
  • A Shared Passion for Innovation: We’re a forward-thinking company driven by a shared passion for innovation and excellence. Our team members are passionate about what they do, and that energy is contagious.
  • Recognition and Appreciation: We believe in celebrating achievements and recognising the hard work of our team. We foster a culture of appreciation where individuals feel valued, and their contributions are acknowledged. 

Proud of the Team, Inspired to Move Forward

Great Place to Work® is recognised as the global authority on workplace culture due to its extensive research, assessments, and insights into employee experiences across diverse companies and industries. 

This latest Great Place to Work® certification is a badge of honour for ADITS,
says Ashley.

It validates what our clients have known all along with ADITS as their IT partner. For those seeking to work with us, it is a preview of the stimulating, supportive, and rewarding work environment they can be part of to make a difference.

Adam Cliffe, ADITS Managing Director, shares:

ADITS is incredibly proud of this achievement and immensely grateful to our dedicated team. It is an inspiration for us to keep nurturing our culture, fostering innovation, and improving the workplace experience for our employees.

Centacare North Queensland

Centacare Catholic Family Services is a non-profit offering a range of services committed to enhancing people’s quality of life across Australia. Their programs include domestic and family violence, homelessness, registered training, NDIS and carer supports, children’s services, family and relationship supports and health, wellbeing and education.