As we live in the era of digital technologies, cybersecurity concerns are getting more and more frequent and serious. The Government agencies and other organisations need to protect their IT facilities while cybercrime severity increases. Similarly, as everywhere in the world, Australia is facing up these issues as well. The trend shows that the entire world including Australia is suffering cyber skills shortage.
Cybercrime started off with geeky teenage computer experts hacking email accounts and bypassing basic access control mechanisms for IT networks. The industry has developed over the years, and many amateurs now practice basic hacking tactics in the cyber space. However, the IT security industry still faces a global skills gap that could take as much as twenty years to fill in some of the most developed countries of the world.
The Defence Science and Technology Organisation is looking for new recruits to Australia’s cyber army – a task that promises to be an uphill battle as Australia struggles to produce enough computer science engineers.
Highly skilled computer science graduates are increasingly in demand in the private sector and many industry experts believe there are not enough cyber worriers popping out of the nation’s universities.
As it is known, having strong cyber security is critical to having a strong economy. It’s not something that should be outsourced.
In Australia, graduates were divided between IT support workers and network engineers, the latter of which are taught to build new network defence and critical enterprise systems which Australia lacks.
The National ICT Australia (NICTA) has warned that “Australia could miss the chance to build an internationally competitive cyber security industry if it doesn’t … create market opportunities and challenging careers for our best computer scientists and software engineers.”
Cyber wars coming up
By some experts, funding from priority areas such as cyber security would not be cut. But many scientists fear Australia’s investment into cyber security is leaving the nation vulnerable to unknown threats.
According to Tom Worthington from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, the next war that Australia is involved in will start in cyber space and we won’t realise we are under attack until we have real problems. Also it takes years to train people in cyber security.
There are some cyber schooling institutions such as the new ADFA “cyber range” training centre has begun educating Australian defence forces in network security but it is understood the new cyber security centre announced under the Gillard government is waiting to get opened.
Usually under attack
Recently a cyber strike brought down the Australian Federal Police website, part of a series of attacks on the organisation. The group believed to be responsible is also suspected of cyber attacks against the Royal Australian Air Force, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the spy agencies ASIO and ASIS.
The issue is that no countries invest enough in cyber security, which is a very important area, and that countries which do not invest enough are forced to rely on expertise of the major powers.
In conclusion, as an example of a good industry practice we can mention that the Australian Government has teamed up with Telstra, NBN Co and PwC to hold the Cyber Security Challenge to address a skills shortage in the number of cyber security professionals in Australia. We hope these will somehow fill the existing gap.