Engineers Australia is urging businesses to assess their systems for weak points amidst the Optus network outage, highlighting the critical issue of cascading risk and its impacts.
Chief engineer, Jane MacMaster, said it is crucial to recognise the cascading risk associated with such technology failures.
“When one system fails, it can trigger a domino effect across multiple systems, amplifying negative impacts.”
MacMaster says that as critical infrastructure, including health, education, transport, and more, becomes increasingly interconnected, cascading risk becomes more important.
“Cascading risk can result from various factors, such as extreme weather events, cyberattacks, or geopolitical events.”
“Australia has witnessed several instances of cascading risk in the past, including the 2016 electricity system blackout in South Australia and the recent impact on transport networks and vital services during bushfires.”
MacMaster is urging businesses and individuals to assess their systems for weak points, implement risk management plans, and build redundancies to increase resilience. She also recommends referring to the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre (CISC) for information on system interdependencies.
This could include having a risk or crisis management plan or building in redundancies for critical systems. But the first step is understanding what systems they rely on and what would happen if these systems fail.”
MacMaster says it is also vital we address the shortage of systems engineers in Australia, emphasising the need to train and employ more systems engineering professionals.
This includes at the highest levels of engineering organisations and government to better manage cascading risk in critical infrastructure and systems.
“In an increasingly interconnected world, we must adapt to manage complex systems effectively.”