Collaborative approach needed on wool software woes

Terry Sim, March 6, 2020

Australian Council of Wool Exporters & Processors president Matt Hand

AUSTRALIA’s wool industry needed to collaboratively discuss solutions to its software services issues following the Talman cyber attack, Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors president Matt Hand said today.

Australian wool auctions resumed on Wednesday this week, more than a week after a ransomware cyber attack on major industry software provider Talman halted sales.

The attack led to Talman working to restore systems by recreating IT infrastructure in which to restore its back-up data top allow sales and bale shipments to recommence.

“What is an appropriate system for an industry of our size and what are appropriate redundancy systems and disaster recovery systems, which are the two areas where Talman appeared to fall short,” Mr Hand said.

“There is plenty of sympathy for Talman being hit by a malicious act; however, their ability to recover didn’t seem to be sufficient, considering an industry of our size.

“If it was the banking sector, the sharemarket or a lot of other sectors, there would be multiple redundancy systems sitting there ready to go,” he said.

“In this case it was pretty apparent that we didn’t have one.

“From the exporters’ side, that’s our biggest observation.”

Sales were made possible this week by Talman’s partial restoration of its Application Service Provider (ASP) hosting service, with AWTA providing an electronic mailbox for industry electronic data interchange (EDI) transmissions (including catalogues, delivery orders, invoices), as a stopgap to Talman’s OZDE EDI network which was critical for the exchange of ownership of wool.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and his department have been briefed on the Talman cyber attack, but Mr Hand did not believe government involvement in finding a solution was necessary.

He said there were ample resources in the industry bodies concerned, such as ACWEP, the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia, the Australian Wool Exchange, the AWTA and AWH to address the software issues.

“There is an extraordinary extensive database at AWTA and a lot of skills and resources within that entity and within AWEX, AWH on the logistics side has a lot to offer and then the exporters and broker groups have a lot to offer.

“Collectively, we know what we need, it’s just a project that requires input from all of those entities to work who is best to host and manage it.”

He said the actual ownership of any new software system would be an economic decision made by whoever ended up “carrying the baby.”

“It could be industry owned or industry funded.

“At the moment Talman is industry funded by their charge structure; it’s a user pays system,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone objects to a user pays system as long as it works and it is safe and secure.”

Chief executive officer of the Ozdocs/Talman Group, Dr Pramod Pandey, has previously told Sheep Central that having duplicate systems operational would help minimise future disruptions and the industry should also have a contingency plan. He said Talman would consider what more could be done when the wool industry services were restored.


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