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Distilling a culture of cyber security

In 2019 Matt Hobson and Michael Conrad set out to make Australia's finest rum — and they succeeded. They co-founded Sunshine Coast-based distillery business CAVU and have since launched three spirits brands — Nil Desperandum, Sunshine & Sons and 4pm Spirits.

In 2022 Matt and Michael released their first rum to critical acclaim.

“We are passionate about producing Australia’s finest rum on the beautiful Sunshine Coast and taking the Nil Desperandum brand nationally and to export markets around the world as a rum equal to the world’s best,” Hobson says.

“We use enhanced sensory and analytical testing, as well as accredited quality control to ensure our spirits are consistently exceptional.”

All nine Nil Desperandum rums entered in last year’s Australian Distilled Spirits Awards — including all six rums exclusive to The 1871 Club — left with a gong. The 44 Special was awarded one of only six gold medals. Nil Desperandum left as the most awarded rum brand in Australia.  

“We’ve had incredible success in the short time since we started the business. This year, our Sunshine & Sons Original Vodka also won a World’s Best Award at the World Vodka Awards,” Matt says. “We’ve been winning recognition locally and internationally since we released our first spirits and we are so proud of what we’ve achieved.

“The awards have translated to sales and we’re going from strength to strength.”

The distillery, located in the lush Sunshine Coast hinterland rainforest, is just a short idyllic walk from Queensland’s iconic and much-loved Big Pineapple. The distillery is open to the public every day and uses the highest quality ingredients, which are sustainably sourced and, where possible, locally sourced to create a sense of place for the spirits.

“We make a Pineapple Parfait Gin with local pineapples and tropical fruit and what I love about owning a small business is the connection to people. I love seeing locals, visitors and international tourists falling in love with our brands and including them in their special occasions.”

The brands we’ve created have had an impact on people and achieved major accolades, which is incredibly rewarding,” Matt says.

However, Matt knows that all this success could be impacted by a cyber attack on his business. Working within an extensively taxed regulatory environment, the distillery has a significant number of production records that are business-critical and important to its ongoing taxation requirements.

“Being the small size we are, we don’t have IT specialists within our business, but we have a number of services we rely on to assist us with the IT component of our business,” Matt says.

“We have firewalls, multi-factor authentication, antivirus software, regular updates, tech support companies, and data and backup protection through a cloud service.

“Despite making cyber security a priority, it has always concerned me that in the hustle and bustle of business we might not have invested enough time and effort in cyber security.”

These concerns are not unfounded. The business has experienced extensive use of card testing, which is effectively an algorithm that runs maliciously through eCommerce portals, testing random credit card numbers and expiry dates to see if they can make a purchase. CAVU has also received numerous scam emails requesting sensitive details or payments.

“I guess one of those key concerns when you’re operating within the electronic world is pushing the wrong button or potentially reacting to spam to give scammers what they want. It certainly gives you pause for thought,” Matt says.

“The Cyber Wardens training simplifies this very complicated issue within our business. I definitely feel more confident now regarding where and how we need to focus our cyber security efforts.

“It’s a very intuitive training module, laying clear steps to take to ensure that your business and everything within it is secure. It also gives you peace of mind regarding who to call, where to call, and where to get the support you need to keep your business running in the event of a cyber incident.

“It is important for everyone in a workplace to understand cyber security and I would encourage other small businesses in our industry to do the free cyber wardens training so they can help you ensure the digital safety of your business, the same way you’d expect them to help ensure the physical safety.”

With Cyber Wardens, you can keep your digital floors clean and free of cyber criminals fishing.

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