A person typing on a laptop, a graphic of a lock superimposed on their hands.
A person typing on a laptop, a graphic of a lock superimposed on their hands.

What a Shortage of Professionals Means for the Future of Cyber Security

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Cyber security

From ransomware to data hacks, cyber security is becoming a larger and more complex issue for businesses of all sizes around the world. Just about every field has an issue with hacking risks and cyber security, from the healthcare sector to a small businesses. As a result, cyber security professionals are in high demand.

The future of cyber security is challenging but creates great opportunities for people with the right knowledge and skills.

The more the world connects, the bigger the cyber security risk

A new factor in cyber security is the COVID-19 pandemic as more people use the internet at home and businesses transferred to remote working at speed, potentially making them vulnerable to cyber crime. With the pace of change brought about by the pandemic, businesses have found new ways to operate. As a result, there will be a continued risk of cyber attack and the demand in this field will continue to grow.

In 2020, there were several high-profile cyber attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Garmin, best known for its GPS products, was breached, causing the encryption of systems and forcing services offline. Garmin reported it as an outage but said no data was compromised from its customer base. It also emerged that this was likely to have been a ransomware attack, and there’s speculation that the ransom was paid.

A further example of a serious cyber security incident that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic was the supply chain attack on SolarWinds. The attack used a backdoor approach to infiltrate and collapse several systems. It’s believed this was caused by a hostile state and several data breaches occurred.

The rise in cyber crime is attributed to more underground markets operating on the dark web and an increase in use of cryptocurrencies that allow buyers and sellers to trade anonymously. Telstra chief executive Andy Penn has noted that “Australia faces a complex and layered cyber-crime environment that targets everyone from the local fish-and-chip shop to the ASX 200 company; from the local primary school to the global COVID-19 vaccine supply chain.” This highlights that businesses of all kinds need to invest in cyber security and the staff needed to maintain them securely.

Australians are increasingly aware of the risks of cyber crime

Public awareness of cyber crime is also increasing 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 as part of their governance arrangements. Some businesses need to have robust information systems security in place to be accredited.

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. However, almost a quarter of Australian businesses have a skills shortage when it comes to cyber security operations, according to a report from Telstra.

The scope of cyber security has also broadened in recent years. While it was once mainly associated with IT and data-centric systems, it has now widened in scope to include operational technology, such as systems to monitor events and devices. This means that we need more cyber security experts, and existing professionals are likely to need additional training.

Edith Cowan University 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.”

An analysis by HDI indicates there could be a global shortage of 4 million cyber security experts. The skills gap means that in the future of cyber security, there’s a need for people to not only train in this field but also update their skills regularly as new developments emerge.

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 cyber crime. In 2016, the government announced a A$230 million Cyber Security Strategy to address the skills shortage in this area. The strategy includes A$30 million to establish the Cyber Security Growth Centre to support cyber security businesses through 2019-20.

ECU was named as part of the strategy as an Academic Centre of Cyber Security Excellence, one of only two in Australia. The government has made a special funding commitment to ECU to increase the number of highly skilled postgraduates with job-ready skills.

The government has also established a $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.

Australian businesses need to respond to the threat of cyber crime

Telstra’s 2019 report showed that there’s an increase in businesses being aware of the need for increased cyber security. The increased sophistication with which cyber criminals operate means there’s a continual need to update skills and to constantly evolve with the industry as it works to keep ahead of developments and cyber criminals.

The Australian Privacy Act is just one of several legislative moves that have tightened up on data security. Many executive boards have named leads for IT and data security, prioritising the prevention of breaches. There are significant fines for businesses that breach data law, and so each will want to be as secure as possible. These developments create openings for experts in cyber security.

In Australia, 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 and to ensure that the workforce has enough experts to keep on top of the issues generated by the rise in crime.

Study the Accelerated Online Master of Cyber Security at Edith Cowan University

As a student of the Master of Cyber Security, you will learn how to tackle cyber security challenges and help build Australia’s capability in cyber security.

With a job-ready focus, this degree develops practical skills that can be immediately applied to the industry. You will learn to evaluate wireless and mobile computing environments for security issues and gain the tools and techniques required to protect such an application.

Aside from technical skills, this degree also explores the issues surrounding digital devices, the management of networks and of course, the humans using them. You will also explore the role of ethics and the law as they relate to ethical hacking.

ECU’s accelerated online Master of Cyber Security gives you the flexibility to arrange your study around your work and personal life. Learn from the best and qualify faster than on-campus, part-time students.

Call our Student Enrolment Advisors today on 1300 707 760. Contact us to find out more.