In the lead up to National Cyber Week, we are working with Austcyber Canberra Cyber Security Innovation Node and UNSW Canberra on Launch in featuring some of Canberra’s leading cyber companies.

We spoke to Amy Ormrod, General Manager of Terra Schwartz. Learn about what they do, what they are proud of and why Canberra is the best place to do business

Tell us about your company, when and why was it founded?

Terra Schwartz was founded on the belief that as Australians, all of us, Uniformed Defence Members, Public Servants, Private Capability Suppliers and Contractors are working every day to build the future for Australia in our respective roles. The company has been in operation since 2017.

Our business approach is to challenge inefficiency and substandard practices. We then work to find opportunities to improve, innovate and generally do things better. Building a better Australia is a proposition we speak to in our business every day. We deliver cyber-security and professional services capabilities relevant to Australia – this is what drives us.

What products and services do you provide?

We are a wholly Australian-owned SME and specialise in providing strategic cyber and professional services to Defence and National Security clients. Our Cyber Team provide sovereign cyber-security products/services including cyber threat and open source intelligence, cyber risk management, technical and penetration testing, wargaming, machine learning, cyber-security artificial intelligence, security architecture and programming.

We have developed a cyber-security platform called tsX. tsX integrates threat and security architectural information and provides clients with a simulated view of their security posture.

All too often in the cyber and security industry we tend to see a focus on compliance-based activities. Our team is focused on delivering cyber-security services which are risk-based, intelligence-led and mission focused. We start by identifying the actual threat to the organisation, informed by cyber threat and open source intelligence data. We then support our assessments with deep technical expertise.

The cyber domain is getting a lot of attention now. Terra Schwartz differentiates from our competitors through our focus on Australian sovereign capability. We work hard and spend money developing Australian cyber-security expertise that is highly skilled and security cleared. This is about much more than compliance; it is about capability.

Tell us about the skillset and dynamic of the team?

The TS Cyber team consists of experts with experience across government, industry and academia, including multiple PhDs in Computer Science (Cyber and Forensics). Our team includes Australian Signals Directorate-accredited IRAP assessors experienced at working in highly sensitive environments with all personnel holding appropriate clearances suitable to support client cyber-security requirements. Our team comprises diverse skills and capabilities, focused on delivering outcomes and making an impact for our clients. We have close ties with the academic community and collaborate closely with UNSW Canberra and Uni SA.

Our team is a formidable combination of software engineers, intelligence specialists and cyber security experts.

Tell us about the current cyber landscape in Australia?

The Australian cyber security landscape is quite immature.  There is a wide variety of threats who have historically been focused elsewhere, but our increasing reliance on technology and the rapid growth of threat penetration across government and industry is creating quite a hostile environment for business. As a nation we have not invested in a great deal of sovereign capability. Terra Schwartz is doing its bit to fix this; however, it is not without risk and requires effort. We do not believe there are any magic bullets, and as a nation there is a need to diversify and strengthen our capabilities, as well as building greater depth of talent.

What advice do you have for startups and business around cyber security?

Believe in yourself. And know that to be successful you need to solve a problem that is important to a someone else. Start your business with a great idea that solves a real-world problem that someone is willing to pay for. Surround yourself with a supportive group of people/team who can deliver on your strategy. Finally, resilience is critical to be successful. You need to be able to get up each time you get knocked down and develop a thick skin.

What are you most proud of so far?

We are very proud of our entire Cyber Team – most of whom have recently celebrated their 6-month work anniversary with Terra Schwartz. We strongly believe that the sum of our whole team is greater than the individual members. Our team was recently awarded a Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grant from Defence. This grant will enable our team to grow in number and develop of our Australian cyber-security system, which creates an understanding of risk and resilience for digitally enabled networks and platforms. The team have achieved a lot in their first 6 months with the company, including an incredible bonding trip to Silicon Valley in San Francisco to attend and present at the RSA Conference 2020. We are also proud of the delivery efforts of the team to work on, and balance multiple engagements with great success – well done team!

What quote or philosophy do you stand by?

“Daring ideas are like chess pieces moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Why do you think Canberra is a great place to do business?

Canberra provides us with the opportunity to innovate with unique audiences and engage with government and industry decision makers. Canberra is also a fantastic place to live and work.