Telstra has taken a high-profile step in its bid to establish itself as a significant player in the booming global cyber security market, with the official opening of the first of a string of newsecurity operations centres, aimed at increasing the work it wins with government and corporate clients. The multimillion-dollar Sydney centrewas unveiled by chief executive Andy Penn alongside federal Cyber Security MinisterDan Tehan on Thursday afternoon, as the company continues its mission to prove to investorsit has a solid post-NBN plan. Telstra shares were hit hard after its annual results, led largely by Mr Penn announcing the company's much-loved dividend would be slashedby 30 per cent.Investors are now looking to the CEO to demonstrate that the company is on the front foot in establishing business lines in growing sectors.
While he declined to say how much the centres cost, the Telstra bosssaid theyrepresented a significant financialcommitment in an area he is expecting to see significant future growth. Whenrival telco Optus opened up its own cyber security centre late last year, it invested $8 million in establishing it. "We are investing significant amounts in the millions of dollars, this is about providing capability for the future," Mr Penn said. "I think we can safely assume that it is a bigger commitment than that [made by Optus.]" Telstra's full-year results showed revenue in itsnetwork applications and services (NAS) business, which includes cyber security, grew 30.6 per cent to $3.4 billion. The level of ongoing investment it is making in the division shows it is earmarked as crucial to the company's long-term viability. Mr Penn said the new centres would fit in with its existing efforts, which already involvesa network of more than 500 cyber security experts, whohe said assisted organisations with monitoring, detecting and responding to security incidents.
"We have leveraged these capabilities already to help many of our customers protect their business operations too, so now we are about to scale upfurther," he said. "Telstra, with our long history of protecting our network, is well positioned to do this. As Australia's largest telecommunications provider we have an obligation to deliver services that will protect the market locally and our customers globally." In addition to the centres Telstra announced that it wouldlaunch a new"Secure Internet" product for consumer and small business customers, which would filter out malicious network traffic and establishlearning and development programs to build knowledge of cyber security incompany workforces.
Mr Penn said Telstra was motivated by more than profit, saying cyber security was a "team sport" that also involved collaboration with government and other organisations. "Our cyber security strategy aims to lift the country's cyber security baseline through the establishment of secure connections, network-level controls and awareness campaigns for the business community as well as consumers," he said. Mr Tehan meanwhile said the creation of Telstra's network of centres would greatly assist the government's attempts to manage the increasing risks of global cyber threats. "Let's not beat around the bush, the cyber risk is there and it is growing," Mr Tehan said.
"We are seeing cyber espionage, cyber crime and ransomware, they are all alive and well and we have to be in a position to deal with them. Government cannot do it alone, industry cannot do it alone, the community cannot do it alone, we need the three working together." Optus Business managing directorJohn Paitaridissaid it had ninefederated Advanced Security Operations Centres in the Singtel Optus Group located in Australia, the US, Europe and Asia. He said demand was increasing from traditional telecommunications clients for more advanced technology options andcyber security protection, detection and response services were increasingly in demand. "The Optus Cyber Security team has deep local domain expertise and resourcing, supported by over 3000 Cyber Security professionals across Singtel Optus global footprint," he said.