From ransomware to data hacks, cyber security is becoming a larger and more complex issue for businesses of all sizes around the world. Cyber security professionals are in high demand with the best students often being offered jobs with six-figure salaries - before they have even completed the second year of their degree.
An increasingly connected world is creating cyber security challenges
In May 2017 a ransomware attack spread across the globe over one weekend. WannaCry infected over 200,000 computers and encrypted the content of their hard drives before demanding a ransom payment in Bitcoin. The NHS in the UK was one of the hardest hit, putting organisations with IT and cyber security departments on notice.
At the time, Assistant Minister for cyber-security Dan Tehan described the attack as a wakeup call, conservatively estimating that ransomware costs the Australian economy $1 billion a year.
Since then, US$7.4 million in the cryptocurrency Ether was stolen from investors in just three minutes. Weeks later US$32 million was lifted from digital wallets in another heist. Then the Equifax website was hacked with the credit data of 150 million people falling into criminals’ laps.
Damages from cybercrime in 2015 were estimated at US$3 trillion. Telstra’s Annual Security Report recently quoted industry sources estimating that annual figure will double by 2021.
The Telstra Security Report 2018 states that these cybercrimes, “range from distributed denial of service (DDoS), web and application vulnerabilities, to advanced persistent threats (APTs) carried out through zero-day exploits which attack previously unknown vulnerabilities.”
The rise in cybercrime is attributed to more underground markets operating on the dark web and an increase in cryptocurrencies that allow buyers and sellers to transact anonymously. Telstra reports these attacks aren’t random anymore but are increasingly aimed at specific businesses who are held hostage by cybercriminals.
Awareness of cybercrime is also increasing with the public due to heightened regulations around data breaches. Many businesses are required to inform victims when their data is compromised. Most companies also report regularly on cyber security to senior management and the board.
The growing demand for cyber security professionals
With additional cyber security measures and extended reporting requirements, there’s an increasing demand for more highly-skilled cyber security professionals in Australia. Yet almost a quarter of Australian businesses have a skills shortage when it comes to Cyber Security Operations, according to the Telstra report.
ECU Executive Dean of the School of Science and a member of the ECU Security Research Institute, Professor Andrew Woodward says the demand for cyber security professionals is reaching right into the classroom.
Cyber security skills are in such high demand we see our best students being offered six-figure salaries when they're only in their second year of a degree.
Reporting on the shortage, ABC News states a hiring frenzy is ‘gobbling up’ IT students – which is good news if you’re already studying cyber security or intending to study.
Creating a strong Australian cyber security ecosystem
The Federal Government is taking several steps to ensure that we can all enjoy the economic possibilities of the digital world without putting ourselves at risk of cybercrime. In 2016 the Prime Minister announced a AU$230 million Cyber Security Strategy to address the skills shortage in this area.
The strategy includes AU$30 million to establish the Cyber Security Growth Centre to support cyber security businesses through to 2019-20.
Edith Cowan University (ECU) was named as part of the strategy as an Academic Centre of Cyber Security Excellence – one of only two in Australia and the only one in WA. The Government has made a special funding commitment to ECU to increase the number of highly skilled post-graduates with job-ready skills.
The Government has also established a AU$139 million Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which is based at ECU’s Joondalup Campus. With ECU as a lead partner, the CRC will work with government, industry and research groups to improve cyber security while training the next generation of cyber security professionals.
In addition to the government response, Telstra reports that business is also responding to the rise in cybercrime with its own money. The 2018 Annual Security Report found that 36% of Australian businesses that responded to the survey have implemented cyber-awareness programs.
There is a clear and active response to cyber security from government, business and educational institutions. The challenge is to balance speed and quality in this response to train effective cyber security professionals.
Study the Accelerated Online Master of Cyber Security at Edith Cowan University
As a student of the Master of Cyber Security you’ll learn how to tackle cyber security challenges and become part of a generation that helps build Australia’s capability in cyber security. You’ll also be qualified faster and be able to apply your learnings to the workplace immediately.
ECU’s Master of Cyber Security connects you with one of only two Australian universities recognised by the Federal Government as an Academic Centre of Cyber Security Excellence. You’ll be studying with academics who regularly assist the WA Police and Auditor General’s Office – in fact, two of the ECU Cyber Team are Interpol recognised cybercrime experts.
With a job-ready focus, the cyber security course develops a number of practical skills that can be applied to common uses of technology in business. You’ll learn to evaluate wireless and mobile computing environments for security issues and gain the tools and techniques required to protect such an application.
With the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), hot desking and shared working environments, the Master of Cyber Security explores the legal issues surrounding digital devices and the management of networks.
Of course, to catch a hacker, you have to think like a hacker! Ethical hacking is an emerging field that tests secure systems in a real-world context to highlight vulnerabilities that can be addressed to ensure cyber security. In addition to using tools to exploit those vulnerabilities, you’ll explore the role of ethics and the law as they relate to ethical hacking.
Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) accelerated online Master of Cyber Security gives you the flexibility to arrange your study around your work and personal life. You’ll learn with the best and qualify faster than on campus part-time.