Better Business Technology

Passwords ‘now at risk’ says IT expert

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

ROBERT WILKINSON, CEO of Cyber Marathon Solutions, is warning that passwords are now very much at risk, thanks to machine learning.

Mr Wilkinson said it had become a continual battle for IT teams to get people to better secure their passwords.

He said the traditional advice on securing passwords has been how long the password is, whether it has an expiry date and how complex it is.

Now, however, a large number of companies like Microsoft are saying that might not be the best way to secure passwords.

“In this day and age, what you might be better doing is coming up with potentially shorter passwords,” Mr Wilkinson told Talking Business.

“Microsoft recommends shorter passwords because people will remember them. They still recommend some complexity in the passwords, and they also talk about not having them expire. 

“The reason they say that is because people are people. If you have to sit there and remember a whole bunch of different passwords that are a mile long, you’re going to try to make it as simple as possible for yourself.

“So what happens is when you have those long passwords, you make them pretty simple so reasonably simple to guess, or reasonably simple for a machine to guess,” he said.

“So if you have a rule that says it has to be changed every 30 days, what people will do is have the exact same password and change the numbers which is also very obvious and makes it easy for them to be cracked.”

Passwords plus multi-factor authentication

Mr Wilkinson said passwords these days have to be part of a system which includes multi-factor authentication.

“You need to have user education to tell users why it’s important to have a password that is unique for the services they’re looking at rather than spreading it across every single thing they log into,” Mr Wilkinson said.

He said that while he suspects passwords “are not going away” there are other security options to passwords.

These include biometric identification from the phone, like finger prints or face scans, multi-factor tokens that can be put on key rings – and some companies issue people with digital certificates on their computers that authenticate them.

Mr Wilkinson said Microsoft ATP (Advanced Threat Protection), for example, includes vulnerability assessments in addition to anti-virus protection and built-in AI that allows users to spot threats that are emerging. This is a subscription service that comes with Office 365.

Microsoft prepares businesses with ‘ATP’

Microsoft ATP can also help IT and security staff by keeping track of what happens on a machine and categorising some of the things it detects.

“You can imagine if you’re a business owner and you have 100 machines trying to force feed stuff to your IT teams, you can start missing things,” he said. “What ATP can do is start prioritising those things and make it easier and quicker to respond to them.”

Mr Wilkinson said ATP incorporates a lot of automation and it can be integrated with other applications such as security or IT ticketing systems.

He said companies can deal with cyber security by having a plan to start with and implementing user education.

“That’s what most companies skip to their detriment,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“You need to make sure the users have an understanding of the types of issues they may face because not everyone is an IT person,” he said.

“It’s going to be a surprise for some people to see how easy it is to breach an organisation by working through a user.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



‘The data, the better,’ says property platform leader

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>>

DOMAIN Group, which lays claim to being Australia’s leading property marketplace – incorporating  a variety of brands and tools – is building data partnerships with agents and developers.

Domain Group head of its Commercial, Developers and Agency division, Ivan Curic, says it is to make sure Domain can tap into their data – and Domain’s – to create a more compelling proposition for their customers.

“It’s very competitive but we have a unique audience that’s very engaged with our products and platforms. We want to make sure we can articulate that to agents and consumers,” Mr Curic told Talking Business

“It’s about making sure once audiences come to our site and platform, they’re engaged. They’re engaged with different products, they’re engaged with different services. We really make sure we maintain that stickiness.”

Mr Curic’s skills are in media, broadcasting and customer relationship management (CRM). Domain has audiences that are engaged with products and brands and real estate agents want to access those audiences to sell their listings.

From newspaper classifieds to modern digital search

This audience ‘stickiness’ highlights how Domain is now a fully-fledged digital business, having starting out as a classifieds business in the Fairfax days.

He said this allowed Domain to work with agents who understand how consumers want to review property and engage with those properties.

“They fully understand their buyers better than us some times,” Mr Curic said.

“Agents are now moving to SaaS products for their purchase funnels. It’s really part of their sales and marketing mix.

“Two parts of their role is making sure they’re out there acquiring that stock and then on the other side, selling it to potential buyers.

“So every bit of competitive advantage they can get makes a difference for them.”

Will AI play a major role in future?

 Mr Curic said it was too early to tell how artificial intelligence would impact most sectors.

“But obviously we want to make sure we’re at the forefront of those capabilities and make sure we can get full value out of that,” he said.

Data is a key part of Domain’s business. It maintains data on all properties and listings.

“We make sure we use it effectively to drive positive outcomes for agents and making sure we have the right buyers for those listings for them,” Mr Curic said.

“For me, as a business it’s really challenging because there is so much data out there,” Mr curic said. “How do you make sure it’s meaningful in a concise clear manner?

“But it’s a challenge for most businesses. I don’t think there’s a business out there that doesn’t have challenges with how effectively they utilise their data.”

Mr Curic said real estate agents understood the importance of having data that has an impact.

“It’s about them making sure they’re using their database to merge with other portals, and ourselves, and other marketing channels, to make sure they can qualify those leads and put those properties and listings in front of the right audience that are going to engage or react to that property” he said.

“They’ve got their own databases that they really use and nurture, making sure they use it as part of their media mix.”

He said this was where agents worked with Domain.

“We’ve got 7 million people coming to our products and platforms every month. We’ve got a rich set of data and they use that effectively across a lot of our products.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

Domain uses hi-tech to boost property services

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

DOMAIN’s head of customer solutions, Angus Ferguson, says his team provides the technology for real estate agents to scale up their businesses without the paperwork and numerous trips to the office.

They also show agents how to get return-on-investment (ROI) out of technology by identifying customers who are more likely to invest in the property.

Mr Ferguson, who started out as a real estate agent, developed the technology years ago to address one of the big issues real estate agents faced: every time after an auction, whether the property was sold or passed in, the agent had to call four data houses – Domain, REA, Property Data and Core Logic. 

“If you had 10 auctions on that Saturday, you’re potentially making 20 phone calls to report your auction results,” Mr Ferguson told Talking Business.

“So what we did was we build a tool that allowed us as agents, in the very beginning, to scribe bids on an iPad. So we built technology to allow us to write down the bids, translate that into a number, store it and then send that sales price to all the different data houses.”

From there, he then transitioned out of his real estate business into a start-up tech business with his business partner.

“Agents started coming to us and saying ‘You guys are good at solving problems and building price out of that. Can you look at other parts of our processes?’ ‘’

The product his company built out of that was a digital compliance tool, allowing the agent to go into the living room of a client with the all compliance documentation on their iPad to sign up a listing. The compliance tool allowed the agent to speed up the efficiency of the compliance, taking up less of their time, making them more productive, and create digital contracts.

The business was then sold to Domain.

He now runs a team of about 100 people offering a range of products for the real estate industry such as Price Finder, which is a data product, and LeadScope to help agents identify their next listing faster.

The technology has allowed Domain to transition from a listings business to a high-tech technology company. A marketplace for the real estate industry.

“The challenge and strategy for us is how do we create a connected suits of solutions that allow our customers to seamlessly transact a lot more efficiently than they did yesterday” Mr Ferguson said.

“Really what that means for us is…what we hope for and strive for, is that we build the best workflow through technology and we have an open ecosystem that allows them to plug in their tools as well. They’ll be able to transact more properties by not necessarily putting more cost in an that allows us to have more listings on site.”

Domain’s customer segments include governments, banks, buyers, vendors, investors and landlords.

Mr Ferguson’s core customers are real estate agents. His aim is to help them scale their businesses with a minimum of paperwork and trips to the office. 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


Throw away the CVs, Barb Hyman says AI ‘recruits best’

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

HOW RELIABLE is artificial intelligence (AI) to recruit talent? According to Barb Hyman, who created, it’s the only way. is the AI-driven recruiting program that is being used by some of Australia’s biggest companies and government departments.

Ms Hyman said candidates were assessed through the AI tool of natural language processing. Job candidates are asked to answer five questions on their mobile phones. It’s all done by text.

“It’s mobile-first because that’s where people live. These days you have to meet people where they are,” Ms Hyman told Talking Business

“It’s five questions, questions you would ask in an interview. ‘Tell about a time you delivered amazing customer service. What did you learn from that?’ ‘Tell us about a setback in your life. How did you pick yourself up and move forward from that’.

“It’s a structured interview which is the high water mark of what is regarded as fairness and calibration and we have built and experience around that and that simplicity and ease is what candidates love about it.”

AI interprets what businesses really want and need

Ms Hyman said most business and agencies know what they need for a successful candidate and this is also defined by the data.

“We know through our data there is certain profile of success, a DNA if you like, of someone working in customer service, and that’s different to someone working in sales,” Ms Hyman said.

“What we are able to do through our algorithms and our innovation is extract, from your 200-300 words, that DNA. We can tell whether you are someone who is a high critical thinker or low critical thinker. Someone who is high on humility or low. And that’s what we’re matching to.

“We can discover that with accuracy of 85 percent-plus and without any bias. We don’t use any CV data, no social media data. There’s no information about you. You could be 50 or 10. It doesn’t make a difference to machine.”

CVs are old, unreliable technology

Ms Hyman said this system worked a lot better than using ‘the old CVs’.

The Sepia-ai recruitment program worked more effectively, she said, because CVs were an “outdated data point”.

“It doesn’t reveal who are, it’s pretty easily gameable these days. It’s more a description of what school you went to, your GPA (Grade Point Average in education), the experience you’ve had which a lot of research shows is not predictive of performance,” Ms Hyman said.

“So if you’re applying for a job to a company like Woolworths which uses predictive hire, you don’t need to submit your CV, it’s irrelevant.”

Ms Hyman said past performance indicated on a CV was no indicator of how someone would perform now.

She also said some clients, such as Energy Australia, use because they want to bring about a culture change.

“They don’t want the same people who go from one contact centre to another,” Ms Hyman said. “They want the hairdresser who has the ability to stand all day, engage with customers, incredible empathy, great listening skills. Why can’t a hairdresser make a great call centre operator?

“You get to see talent that no one else does and discover undiscovered talent because you’re not relying on the CV.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

Securely app can help solve tradie payment delay problems

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES for tradies and sub-contractors now is they are not being paid. They finish a job and the client is unwilling to pay, or they want to negotiate it down, telling them they don’t have the money and suggesting it be paid off in small instalments.

Andy Squires, CEO of Securely, has developed an app that will address that problem and create a win-win for tradies, sub-contractors and their clients.

Securely records and guides the process. A tradie comes to a client and they agree on a price. The tradie then uploads their photo and a word description of the quote into the app, and for the client.

The client then gets a message on their email asking them if they accept the job and, once the client accepts the job, funds are deposited. The tradie then gets notification that the job has been accepted. Once the job is completed, the tradie puts that information back into the app. When the customer sees that and they’re happy with the job, they release the funds directly to the tradie. 

Useful for building tradies and beyond

Mr Squires said the app had attracted the attention not only of building tradies. Cleaners, landscapers and interior designers are also interested in it because they have got the same process problem.

“We’ve had a few business areas contacting us and saying can we use it for our business.” Mr Squires told Talking Business.

He said the problem had been getting worse since COVID.

“Everybody has been spending more time at home so there’s a lot of DIY stuff going on and we’re hearing a lot more situations where customers are getting ripped off by people posing as tradies, coming around, having a look at a job, being paid a deposit and then vanishing,” Mr Squires said.

This application allows people to see that they could get work done on a safe platform which would make Securely a win-win for tradies and customers.

“The tradie knows the money is there and available once he’s completed the job and the customer knows they don’t have to release the funds until once the work has been completed,” Mr Squires said.

Payment disputes ‘common’

Mr Squires said disputes about payments were now coming through “thick and fast” around Australia.

Securely is Queensland-based but is operating now right around Australia. The app has been developed and tested over several years so that it can be used successfully by tradies and customers.

Mr Squires said the Securely app was also partly created by an international app developer and an ex-IBM project management specialist, with assistance from a banker

He said Securely is now talking to a range of other organisations that are interested in using the app.

These include Mitre10, Queensland Buildign and Construction Commission (QBCC), Carsales, trade organisations and TAFE Colleges.

He said Securely was looking to push out into other areas of business along with their networks. There is also scope for Securely to move into New Zealand.

“We’ve even had inquiries from Singapore as well from someone over there who has seen it and is very interested because they see it’s a massive problem internationally,” Mr Squires said.

While a lot of work needed to be done about the standards and legalities involved, a global expansion of Securely was “definitely on the cards” according to Mr Squires.


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


ATO extends cyber security contract with Australian secure internet gateway Macquarie Govt

MACQUARIE Government, part of Macquarie Telecom Group (ASX: MAQ), has renewed and extended its agreement with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to provide a range of vital data and cyber security services.

The ATO has opted to continue to leverage services including Macquarie’s Secure Internet Gateway (SIG), 24x7x365 Security Operations Centre (SOC), sovereign data centre, hyper-converged infrastructure, and cloud services.

According to Macquarie Government managing director Aidan Tudehope, these services support the secure management of the connection between the ATO’s IT environment and the internet while protecting the financial, personal and other sensitive data of Australian organisations and citizens. 

Since the initial agreement was signed in 2019, Macquarie has facilitated the migration of SIG services as well as supported the ATO’s IT and security teams in relation to SIG services. This support includes monitoring digital events on the ATO’s SIG and triage of targeted attacks by Macquarie’s SOC. 

For the ATO, Macquarie’s SOC provides a full inspection of internet traffic flows, content, and images to meet ATO policies, the Government’s Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and Information Security Manual (ISM) controls.

In December, Macquarie Government, Australia’s government cyber security specialist, also became the first company in Australia to have both its cloud and data centre services ‘certified strategic’ by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).

Macquarie Government provides SIG and other cyber security services to about 42 percent of Federal Government staff, based on headcount.

“We’re proud to play a key role in keeping one of Australia’s most fundamental government agencies secure, at a time when Australians are looking for greater assurance their critical government data and the institutions that store and protect it are fully secure,” Mr Tudehope said.

In growing its government cyber security capabilities, Macquarie Government has continued to invest in its infrastructure and service capabilities, including a significant focus on recruitment, according to Mr Tudehope.

The company now has more than 220 security cleared engineers servicing its clients. TMr Tudehope said they were driving service innovation through the provision of virtual services gateways, enhanced cyber security tools and secure access service edge (SASE) security frameworks.

Macquarie Government has also significantly expanded its sovereign data centre campus in Canberra, opening the $17 million Intellicentre 5 data centre in 2021.


Cyber security requires ‘eternal vigilance’ says Tudehope

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

BUSINESSES and government agencies are now taking cyber security more seriously. The big change has been since the Federal government brought in minimum standards.

David Tudehope, the founder and CEO of Macquarie Telecom, compared it with fire insurance.

“There was a period when there were no standards on what was acceptable by way of fire prevention and fire response and it was very difficult for businesses to know how to protect their buildings,” Mr Tudehope told Talking Business.

“And 100 years ago, they brought in minimum standards for buildings and I think in terms of fire protection and sprinkler systems and water houses and fire hydrants, and the things we take for granted weren’t part of that,” he said. 

“It’s similar to cyber security. When you have minimum standards, it does prevent and reduce the impact.

“There is a value, in having minimum standards for cyber security in critical industries of course, the ones that are most important to the economy and also in other sectors as well.”


Mr Tudehope said these type of preparations require government involvement.

“It’s not about red tape. It’s about protecting the economy, individuals and businesses’ data,” he said.

Mr Tudehope said compromised information can be restored by storing the information and data in a separate place from the primary, in a cloud that’s separate from the primacy cloud, and in a separate location.

He said combatting cyber threats requires good preparation, talented people and eternal vigilance.

He compared it with the way some people treat “a mousetrap to get rid of mice, instead of being vigilant”.

“The issue is, you need to constantly tune your placement of the mouse-traps, the cheese you use, you have to take away the dead mice,” Mr Tudehope said. “No healthy mouse is going to walk into the same trap with dead mice sitting in it.

“That eternal vigilance, as the Americans would say, the block and tackling, is key to success, rather than the initial purchase and initial deployment which is where the money and the energy goes,”

“It means constantly doing the things you did initially over and over again. Putting in fresh cheese, taking out the old cheese, moving the mouse-trap to a different location. These are the things that are key and what that translates to, back in the world of cyber security, is the criticality of security operations.

“Assuming you buy a quality industrial strength firewall and other kinds of cyber security software, and you install it correctly, the action is at the ongoing management of the security operations.”


Mr Tudehope said this kind of cyber vigilance required having cyber security on staff.

“The problem now is that there is a shortage of this sort of expertise as these experts were always looking out for career paths and challenges,” Mr Tudehope said. “It is very difficult to retain this sort of expertise on staff. With more companies investing in cyber security teams, only a modest number of people are entering the industry.”

Training people into doing this sort of work takes time, he said.

“The key in the absence of that is for people to work out for their business what their priorities are, whether they can do it themselves, or whether they should use a managed security provider,” Mr Tudehope said.

“It is also very important to vet the people you have working for your business to make sure they are who you think they are.”


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at




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