A Year Later: Reflections on the ANZ Security Landscape
It’s been one year since I joined Cloudflare as Head of Australia and New Zealand. While it has been a great year for our ANZ operations, it is hard to stop thinking about the elephant in the room, especially as I’m writing this blog from my home in the middle of Melbourne’s lockdown.
The pandemic has not only disrupted our daily lives, but has also caused a massive shift to remote work for many of us. As a result, security teams lost visibility into office network traffic, their employees moved to unsupervised WiFi networks with new video conferencing technology, and their IT teams found that their out-dated VPN platforms could not handle all the traffic of remote employees. While many organisations were already moving to cloud-based applications, this year has exacerbated the need for greater security posture. Our team has been even more humbled by our mission to help build a better Internet and help organisations face the increased security threats COVID-19 has triggered. With that in mind, I’d like to take a look back at the milestones of the past year.
First, I’d like to recognise how strong and resilient our people have been in the past year. It is not just about the pandemic. It is about a team that has grown more than 60% in size, and for some, have never had the opportunity to meet their colleagues face-to-face, but managed to keep our spirit and culture alive. I’m so proud of how the team continues to meet every customer challenge head on, answering urgent calls for help, many of whom needed to optimise and secure their systems for a remote workforce unprepared for 2020’s curveball.
This is an essential piece in helping to build a better Internet, and the mission is far from over. We recognise the Internet has become an essential service, and greater Internet usage has come with greater cyber risk, and COVID has put the spotlight on the security pain points that Australian organisations and citizens are facing. Scammers have stolen AU$1.2 million from Australians in the first six months of the year, and our recent report ranked Australia fifth in the world for the volume of DDoS attacks targeting Internet properties in Q2.
We need to continue building strong defences against these threats. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy a few weeks ago, which I had the privilege to consult for. However, we need to go further than this and provide organisations with more than a loose plan for upgrading their security standards.
This is why our mission remains more important than ever, and we are ready to take more on. By the end of 2020 and through 2021, we plan to grow our team significantly to meet the challenges. In the meantime, I believe we need to keep that conversation alive, elevate the message to every board member, and every employee regarding the security risks Australian organisations are facing to really spark a change.
With that said, I am heartened by the increasing number of organisations, large and small, that we have been discussing or working with in the past 12 months. In total, we have had conversations on security with hundreds of organisations over the year, including dozens of meetings on my end with CIOs, CSOs and CISOs, with a very positive response regarding the urgent need for greater security. I have the feeling we are building some kind of community, all rallying behind that common goal.
A few specific examples stand out, as they are perfect illustrations of the variety of problems the team has been able to solve, but also of organisations currently looking for optimisation and security. They are incredibly different, but equally exciting.
The first is Australian tech darling Canva, whose online graphic design tool is used by 20 million people and businesses worldwide. Canva is the perfect example of a business we have helped scale while maintaining performance and security for their users and employees to meet external challenges, including in recent times. Today Canva uses a number of our solutions including Cloudflare Access to secure remote access to internal apps, Workers to customize how user traffic is handled at the network edge, and Bot Management to significantly reduce cyberattacks by image-scraping bots.
“As our business grows, and we expand our product offerings, we’re constantly running into new technical challenges. Just as Canva simplifies graphic design, Cloudflare simplifies performance and security. Thanks to Cloudflare, we can focus on improving our product and expanding into new markets with confidence, knowing that our platform is fast, reliable, and secure.” – Jim Tyrrell, Head of Infrastructure, Canva
The other one is the organisation Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, which is a participant of Cloudflare’s Project Galileo. At Cloudflare, we believe helping to build a better Internet comes with offering more equal access to cybersecurity solutions to vulnerable groups. In 2014, we launched Project Galileo to provide enterprise-level cybersecurity services at no charge to qualified public interest groups like artists, advocates, humanitarian organizations, and the voices of political dissent.
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’s purpose is essential: working to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef through in-water projects and public engagement. With a strong emphasis on digital innovation and open source data, the organisation relies on its website to engage and mobilise people around the world to join their mission. Through Project Galileo, we’ve helped them to secure their origin server from large bursts of traffic or malicious actors attempting to access the website.
“Under Project Galileo we’re always online – a web-fronted not-for-profit running on the resources of a startup, but with the network confidence of an enterprise.” – Som Meaden, Technologist at Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef
However, there is only so much we can do alone. Because we are stronger together, we continue to establish and reinforce strategic partnerships in the region. In June, we strengthened our relationship with Rackspace to provide our shared users with combined services aimed at securing and optimising their growing online presence. We have also partnered with Baidam and AC3. Finally, even though our coverage in ANZ is already significant, we continue to expand in adding more points of presence in the region.
This first year has certainly been interesting in so many aspects. It has been unexpected and challenging, but also a journey full of learnings I believe have made me a stronger individual and business leader. I work with a team full of talented individuals, customers that share our purpose, and key partners that make us stronger. With all these allies around us, I’m looking at the future full of optimism for our purpose to build a better, safer, and more resilient Internet. Join the cause.