In the largest security breach in Australian history more than half a million clients of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service had their names, passwords, IDs, phone numbers, email addresses and credit card numbers revealed online last October.
According to the Telstra Cyber Security Report 2017, 59% of organisations in Australia detected a security breach that interrupted their business at least monthly - twice as often as the year before.
Yet there is a dearth of people specifically trained to assist. “There is a huge demand for cyber security professionals in Australia and around the world,” says Bronwyn Mercer, a cyber security analyst in the banking industry.
There’s even more demand in certain industries. Finance and healthcare have seen huge data breaches in recent years, which are costly to the organisations and to public confidence.
Particular skill sets are required, she says. “Like penetration testers, ‘ethical hackers’ who will test your network for vulnerabilities before the bad guys find them.”
A national survey of companies conducted by PwC found that 62% had some degree of difficulty recruiting staff with suitable cyber security skills. More than a third thought that current training was inadequate.
“If no changes are made to vocational education and training in Cyber Security skills, there is a risk that more cyber threats will go unchecked,” the report’s authors concluded, “A lack of change in this area could inhibit Australia’s economic growth and stifle innovation, threatening Australia’s international competitiveness.”
Australian universities are stepping up to the challenge, says Dr Priyadarsi Nanda, Head of Cyber Security program at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). UTS has introduced a major in Cyber Security for the first time this year in its existing Master of IT and Master of Engineering courses.
It is an important time for us to respond to the need to educate the next generation to ensure they’re prepared to handle any kind of eventuality when it comes to attacks on cyber security.
The UTS major includes topics on cryptography, programming, IoT (Internet of Things)-based applications and use of digital forensics. Students will examine security for the mobile platform as this affects millions of individuals who use smartphones to access personal information and for financial transactions, as well as cloud security.
“More and more businesses have jumped into cloud-based computing in the last five to six years,” Dr Nanda says. “But it's not yet clear how secure the cloud environment is.”
The same is true for IoT, he adds. “We now have more and more tiny devices connected to the Internet, for example the smart home, smart business or smart city. It's all about data being collected and transmitted. But we’re still not clear whether the collection process or the transmission process is secure or not.”
UTS has close ties with industry - many of the lecturers are connected to various industries and the Faculty of Engineering and IT has an industry advisory board - making the course especially practical. “We will ensure our cyber security course will prepare our students to study and design real-world solutions and combat current as well as future cyber threats,” says Dr Nanda.
Want to secure your future?
During a postgraduate degree at UTS, you'll develop the characteristics to help you be agile, look for opportunities to innovate and disrupt and be an effective project manager.
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