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Protecting Information with Cyber Security

Man sitting a computer writing code
Who's protecting your information?

It’s happening here, it’s happening everywhere. There’s a huge shortage of cyber security professionals around the world. 

And, it’s a worry because nearly 60 percent of organisations in Australia experienced at least one disruptive security breach a month in 2016, compared to 24 percent in 2015, according to Telstra’s Cyber Security Report 2017.

Our training institutions can’t churn out graduates fast enough and recent changes in government immigration policy have limited the number of professionals coming from overseas. This has resulted in entry-level cyber security analysts reportedly being offered around $75,000 a year in Australia, with that figure only escalating with experience.

Why we need cyber security professionals

“Cyber security is a bit of a buzzword because it covers a lot of areas,” says Frank Trcka, an IT teacher here at Melbourne Polytechnic.

The term encompasses threats from confidence tricksters targeting individuals, to massive data breaches in big business or governments.

“There’s really not one area, whether its business or social life, where we aren’t using devices, computers or networks, which is great and efficient but every time these new technologies come through there are also people who want to exploit problems with that technology.”

“Because the digital transmission of data, computers, and networks are so pervasive, we need people with skills in cyber security to be able to protect businesses, governments, and individuals.”

Franks says, the threats can come from anywhere because a lot of hacking software is free and available for anyone to use, which makes it hard for authorities to keep a lid on breaches.

“The thing with IT is, it is always changing, every few months there is a new vulnerability or attack coming through. It's pretty much an ongoing process.”

It could be as simple as a disgruntled employee, or a kid looking for something to do on a Friday night. And, it could be as complex as an international coordinated breach.

Joanna Jackson, Manager of Information Technology at Melbourne Polytechnic says the security errors organisations are making can be pretty simple and only happen because no-one is advising them on cyber security.

“There’s stuff that goes on because people don’t know how to protect themselves better.”

“A lot of people don’t know that they can change their default password, so because they leave their default admin password there. Hackers can use those passwords to hack into their systems because that stuff is readily available on the internet in the manual.”

The skills gap and how we fill it

With the NBN being rolled out across Australia more business activity is expected to occur online, it is supposed to be an exciting time for Australia, but securing the space is looking difficult without enough graduates to fill skill shortage gaps.

Joanna says there are lots of entry-level jobs available because experienced cyber security professionals are getting promoted so quickly.

“They are moving up in their businesses into new roles... What that means is there is now a gap in the market for entry-level positions for more people to come in.”

She says Melbourne Polytechnic is preparing students by offering highly practical, hands-on cyber security courses.

“There’s a big emphasis on the practical and the applied, so students will learn how to test for vulnerabilities in networks and then how to mitigate those risks. There’s a lot of technical skills being taught, particularly around networking.”

Joanna says graduates from Melbourne Polytechnic’s IT courses hit the ground running when they step into a job. It’s their big selling point and its why employers love them.

Check out Information Technology programs here as your first step into a career Australia and the world needs.