Tech and Innovation |

What does life in a post-pandemic world look like?

By Sami Makelainen April 24, 2020

Significant societal changes are often triggered by crises; women entered the workforce en masse due to massive demand for workers during World War II; the Great Depression in the United States had many question unfettered capitalism, and the State took a larger role in the economy; energy efficiency became a focus during the Oil Crisis of the 1970’s. While some of these changes weakened over the decades, they all had a long-term impact on societies.

Today the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the world, and it is certain that this crisis, too, will have significant and long-lasting impacts on how we live our lives. Even the immediate “short-term” impacts from the pandemic are stretching out to 12-18 months – at which point we will hopefully have a vaccine.

We are already witnessing some of the coming changes, while many others will no doubt only become apparent over several years.

What are some of these changes that the crisis is precipitating or accelerating

One is the use of technology to enable social distancing – in some Chinese hospitals, robots have been introduced to do simple tasks such as distributing medical supplies to wards, thus reducing people’s movements and the risk of contagion.

For now, however, robots are of help in only a very limited number of situations. The increased demand for health professionals, combined with the need for social distancing has already changed the landscape in Australia, where telehealth consultations can now be bulk-billed for all Australians.

Even during “normal” times, this will benefit people who struggle to consult in person due to disabilities or work conflicts.

Another major change is the closing of schools, which has taken place globally and for what looks likely to be extended periods of time. Since it’s unacceptable to just put all learning on pause for months, online learning is experiencing a sudden boom. This massive experiment will undoubtedly allow us to quickly learn what works and what doesn’t – and will eventually result in development of new, better processes and tools for online education at all levels of schooling. While students will eventually return to classes, it seems unlikely the newfound best practices for online learning would all be forgotten. Australia is likely to be one of the forerunners in both developing and adopting new online learning methods; after all, we have over half a century of experience in distance learning with the School of the Air.

It’s obviously not just students who are now home – most office workers are as well, which is driving similar changes. There is no shortage of guidance being offered to people working from home, especially for those new to the concept.

Teething problems are all but guaranteed at first, and many will find the change challenging. Over time, however, the positives for both employees and employers will be better understood and appreciated, and it seems likely working from home will remain more mainstream even after the crisis is over.

Commuting times are much more reasonable when working from home, and many will find concentration is easier with fewer office distractions – at least when the children return to school.

As such, these changes are now taking place at an accelerated rate, and they have flow-on effects elsewhere in society. Working from home alleviates – or almost eliminates in some cases – traffic flowing into the CBDs, whereas demand for recreational spaces such as cafes in suburbs will increase, as long as they are allowed to remain open.

Increased use of streaming services and videoconferencing is already driving rapid network traffic growth, forcing throttling of some services until the infrastructure can catch up – which it eventually will. Suddenly wider roads are not a priority, but wider network ‘pipes’ are.

There are also bound to be other large-scale societal changes flowing from the crisis; for example, it is clear resilience will play a bigger role in organisational and country-level strategies in the future. Already, companies and governments are re-thinking supply chains heavily dependent on China. A degree of decentralisation and diversification of supply chains appears inevitable, even at the cost of some efficiencies.

For many people, however, the biggest change the pandemic has brought so far has been the disruption to our social gatherings. As physical distancing is necessitated to increasing degrees globally, it is becoming clear that some of that will be the new normal for extended periods of time. Social distancing, per se, doesn’t need to be so severe – instead of meeting face to face, people seek to connect online, and are doing so at record scale.

Any one of several ongoing wholesale changes to our lives would be stressful. As they are all happening at the same time and under a cloud of severe health risks, it is no wonder people are feeling anxious and may not immediately appreciate the new habits.

How much of these new habits will we keep even after we, hopefully, have a vaccine sometime next year? Only time will tell, but it seems unlikely that a full return to the past normal will take place.

Over time, we may grow to appreciate and even love some of the changes that we now feel are being forced upon us.

Cyber Security | Enterprise | Telstra Careers |

3 cyber security trends to look out for in 2019

By Jarrod Cardy November 5, 2018

Did you know that at Telstra we have one of the largest teams of cyber security professionals in Australia?

We have more than 500 people working to fiercely protect the data of our customers and organisation. These people protect our extensive network by preventing issues and solving problems when they arise.

That’s why it’s important for us to keep up to date with information security trends to make sure we’re ahead of the curve. One way we do this is by attending industry events, which some of our team recently did when they went along to the OWASP AppSec Day 2018 – Australia’s only conference dedicated to application security.

So what insights did our people get? Here are the top three things:

Security + DevOps = DevSecOps

Yaso Addanki, Senior Security Architect

Increasingly, people are learning that cyber security is something they need to consider in their work. Take DevOps for example, Yaso describes how this area of work is increasingly asking how it can be more secure.

“A significant trend at the conference was the focus on cyber security in the DevOps world and the importance of the need to embed security in the CI / CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) pipelines,” she said.

“The security challenges with Docker containers and agile methodology, and how iterative threat models can be used to combat some of the challenges that come with them, was also a major topic.

“Telstra is working proactively here – we’re incorporating DevSecOps practices into development communities across the organisation”

Our team at the OWASP AppSec Day 2018

Code needs to be secured as quickly as it’s written

Stefan Gigliotti, Enhanced Services Trainee, Secure Code

As more and more solutions are being made digitally, cyber security principles need to be applied throughout a project’s life-cycle. Stefan learned other teams are beginning to ask questions about security and data protection which is a very promising sign.

“As a whole, I saw a big emphasis on DevSecOps – enabling organisations to deploy code quickly, and securely in an iterative manner,” he said.

“Telstra’s Cyber Security team is already following this trend, with the recent introduction of a team in Cyber Security called “DevOps Security”, which is focused on how we can deliver security services and capability to DevOps teams.

“One initiative we’ve introduced is the concept of training a ‘security champion’ embedded in each feature team, allowing security to be a shared responsibility.”

“What I learnt was very helpful to my career because I am new to the Secure Code team, and fairly new to the AppSec space. The conference provided me a great platform to start my journey, and thrive in the Secure Code team here at Telstra.”

Cyber Security is everyone’s responsibility

Ben Ellett, Security Technologist-Specialist

Cyber security isn’t just the responsibility of the specialists who work to protect it, it is something we all need to consider. Ben was amazed to learn that this year’s AppSecDay wasn’t just for security specialists.

“One of the biggest surprises at the conference was when the keynote speaker asked the crowd how many people DID NOT work in information security. Approximately 50 per cent of the audience raised their hand,” he said.

“This showed me that cyber security extends past the people who specifically work in this function.

“That’s the case here at Telstra, where the Secure Code team within Cyber Security, works with other developers in the business to establish good secure coding practices.

“In terms of the next step in my career and to keep up with industry trends, I’ll endeavour to learn more about the development stacks that full time software developers use in order to learn the security pros and cons inherent to that software.”

Want to learn what a career at Telstra could look like? Check out our careers website.

Cyber security tips when using your phone as a wallet.
Consumer | Cyber Security |

Security tips to use your phone as your wallet

By Darren Pauli March 9, 2018

Telstra security operations specialist Darren Pauli has spent nearly a year with his smartphone replacing a wallet – securely making payments for everyday items and services. There are some guidelines you should keep in mind if you’re considering doing the same.

Apple and Google have invested billions of dollars into information security, with the goal of making their phones harder to hack. The iPhone – with its closed iOS operating system – is the toughest of all, but Google’s Android platform has come leaps and bounds from its anarchic past.

Google had no choice: over 80 percent of all phones sold in the last quarter of 2016 were powered by its Android platform.

Google’s effort means attacks that may have compromised thousands of users in recent years no longer work on updated phones, and it is now much harder and more expensive for attackers to get their malicious apps into official app stores.

Apple and Google, along with Microsoft, have also boosted security investment for services like Google Drive, iCloud, and OneDrive – making those more sensible choices for storing personal data, although there is still much work to be done.

Yet crucially, all of those billions of dollars in investment can be undone if a wallet-free maverick is reckless in their operational security practice.

The security mindset

Think of operational security (or ‘opsec’) as the measure of your security awareness in the world of technology. You win points for knowing how to spot phishing, and for making up a fake birthday and home address for Facebook and other websites.

In short, you become more security-savvy the more you think like an attacker and build roadblocks to frustrate your opponent.

In 2018 this is a necessary skill: You cannot force your favourite online chat forum to use better security that’s harder to hack, but you can change your forum password to something unique or disposable. You can keep your real information out of your forum profile.

And doing this means hackers who break into that forum will not be able to use your password to get into your emails, or use your real name, birthdate, and address to help open a bank account.

Bringing it together: a checklist

You cannot force your favourite sites to be more secure, but you can choose sites which are. You can also use tools that boost the security of the data you control while minimising or even reversing inconvenience.

These are some operational security guides I use to protect my data – see below. Many informational security experts would use much more severe controls, but the vast number of people use far weaker.

Tech and Innovation |

Virtual reality: the future of content

By James Hawley January 18, 2018

The blend between our virtual existence and the physical world has become a normal part of our lives. We are living life through a screen already, so the jump into virtual reality (VR) is not as large a leap as one would expect.

With all of the big tech players pushing hard in the VR race, it’s only a matter of years until we see people sitting next to us on the train with their headsets on. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace in the VR industry, product releases are coming thick and fast, and everyone is trying to be the first past the post to bring a full VR experience into a simple, comfortable, standalone device.

The future of VR

The future of the headset will be one where augmented reality (AR) is the minimum and one can transition into VR or “full immersion” with ease. Microsoft has termed this mixed reality (MR), and with the advent of inside-out tracking has lead the way in making standalone headsets that enable not only looking around the virtual world, but also walking around too.

The ‘full’ VR experience will continue to expand with the release of haptic clothing and gloves, allowing for virtual touch to be included into the development of the VR experience. As VR developers start to utilise these haptic touch devices, the beauty of MR will come into its own and the physical-virtual blend will be truly immersive.

The reason why VR development is moving at such a rapid pace is because of the synergy between hardware and software development. All of the large players are releasing their own platforms to view VR content – and as it stands now, the pathway to content is quite sporadic and device-dependent. This will likely change, with the first company to create a great customer experience at all touch points going a long way to being the ‘Netflix of VR’.

But this will most likely have a shelf life as technology advances, and smart device manufacturers start to adapt their offerings into the MR space. One thing that won’t change is the need for a super-fast network to deliver the content and experience – however it is offered.

Taking VR into the mainstream

Virtual Reality at CES 2018

As VR becomes more mainstream, it will move from the ‘gamer’ space via film-making, and eventually into advertising and public relations (PR). The marriage between VR and PR is quite a simple one, as it makes a lot more financial sense to create a PR activation that can then be taken into the virtual world and experienced by the masses.

No longer is a PR or advertising opportunity going to be bound by the laws of physics or geography; in the near future, utilising AR, ads will be able to be generated into each of our mixed reality experiences for both our entertainment and the company’s ROI.

“Surfing” the web will move from being a nice analogy into reality, with companies like Web VR already playing with the idea of virtual websites. VR for websites has always been what we’ve imagined the best user experience on the Internet to be, and this will enable mass adoption of VR – bringing with it new rules for UX design and web design alike.

The virtual desktop will enable people to work in even tighter spaces, with an unlimited number of screens and at a larger scale than ever before. Productivity will increase, and people will truly be able to immerse themselves in their work.

VR will invade many different industries from both a consumer and enterprise perspective regardless of history. There are already no limits to where someone can take their experience inside the virtual world – and as technology keeps advancing, the limits to how VR can interact with the physical world keep expanding.

There are a few questions that will arise as VR is widely adopted: will one company be able to truly “own” VR? How will ethics become a part of VR development practices? How will VR start to affect us as humans – as we start to interact more with the virtual world, is it inevitable that our physical interactions will decline?

Tech and Innovation |

360 video: Tech trends for 2018 that will change your everyday life

By Andrew Scott December 12, 2017

Hot off the technology presses at Telstra’s Chief Technology Office – meet the five trends that will change your everyday life next year, including everything from the mass adoption of voice assistance, to cheering on the newest category of athletes and the tech toys your kids actually want for Christmas.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JZyV124-r0[/embedyt]

If you prefer listening to our tech trends on the go, listen to our in-depth podcast on the 2018 tech trends here: