Believe it or not, internet usage rates continue to rise, as people rely increasingly on internet access for business and pleasure. Unfortunately, the global shift online, while advantageous in many ways, has also exposed individuals and businesses to the ever-present threat of cybercrime. From hacking servers to steal private information to sharing ‘ransomware’ files that spread with viral efficiency, cybercriminals have a range of tactics they can use to enrich themselves, sabotage competitors, or generally, cause mayhem.
Cybercrime had a US$3 trillion impact on the world in 2015 and is expected to cost the world US$6trillion each year by 2021. According to annual surveys by Telstra, major security breaches have major impacts on businesses, including loss of productivity, corrupted business data, distrust, external fines, litigation, loss of intellectual property, reputation and customers. In Australia, 60 per cent of businesses experienced at least one disruptive security breach a month in the past year, with phishing and compromised emails being the most common.
The cybersecurity industry has developed in response to such threats and aims to protect individuals and organisations while mitigating the damage of an attempted cyber-attack, resulting in the growth of a new industry for graduates searching for the right job.
The cybersecurity industry employs a broad range of people in roles associated with IT, network design, and engineering. Common job titles include infosec officer, cryptographer, security engineer, security administrator, and network analyst. These jobs all have two central goals: first, to prevent breaches by implementing an appropriate security protocol, and, second, to help businesses recover as quickly as possible when compromised by a cyber attack. Cybersecurity workers may also develop and promote policies or protocols designed to minimise the impact of cyber attacks on Australian businesses and private individuals.
The omnipresence of online operations in the business world means that the skills of cybersecurity experts are highly valued in a wide range of organisations. Generally, these organisations fall into three categories. First, cybersecurity experts may work directly for IT-oriented companies such as Google, Deloitte, Accenture, and Microsoft. Second, they can provide technical support within non-IT companies that store sensitive or proprietary data. This category includes financial institutions, charities, educational institutions, and large retailers and wholesalers. Finally, the government’s commitment to supporting cybersecurity has resulted in the creation of numerous public service jobs (for example, at the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network).
Cybersecurity professionals almost always work in an office, though they may occasionally travel off-site to review security arrangements at data storage and colocation centres.
The importance of cybersecurity has led to the development of dedicated masters degrees at the University of New South Wales, Deakin University, Swinburne University, and others – visit PostgradAustralia.com.au for more information. It’s possible to prepare for a career in cybersecurity while completing a more general degree in a related discipline, such as information technology or computer science. To increase your chances of getting hired by a leading firm, it will be advantageous to prioritise the attainment of high marks in relevant fields of study, such as digital forensics, network security operations, programming, or advanced operating systems.
Skills in cybersecurity are in high demand, with skill shortages in Australia and internationally; which offers the added benefit of higher salaries to attract rare talent. The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (ACSGN) estimated that the shortage resulted in a loss of $405 million in revenue and wages in one year alone. Australia’s demand for cybersecurity skills will increase by 18,000 positions by 2026.
This is good news for students who study relevant disciplines, such as computer science, programming, and information technology – a graduate career in cybersecurity can see you starting with a well-known company, often for a competitive salary and with excellent opportunities to advance.