The South Australian government has staged a mock cyber attack to test the readiness of local companies trying to bid for lucrative defence industry contracts.

The staged attack, as part of the cybersecurity industry forum in Adelaide, was carried out by Defence SA and Defence Teaming Centre, and aimed to demonstrate the threat that these forms of attack pose to national security, defence, financial and administrative systems.

The demonstrations included phishing emails, malware and computer scams allowing hackers to steal files, access information and completely take over entire systems, South Australia Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith said.

“Cyber vulnerability is a serious and evolving threat across all industries, including the high-tech multi-billion dollar defence industry,” Hamilton-Smith said.

“Cyber attacks on large Australian companies and government agencies happen daily, and can have devastating impacts, so it is vital we protect ourselves and our information.”

The forum also included live demonstrations by cybersecurity firms OpSys and Fire Eye, along with updates to the industry on potential new threats and protective measures.

The Minister said that cybercrime is now the seventh largest economic threat around the world, and is estimated to cost Australia $16 billion over the coming decade.

The mock attack and cybersecurity forum will help equip local companies with the abilities to protect themselves and sensitive information from attacks, and give them the best chance possible to secure a raft of work in the supply chain for upcoming defence programs in the state.