EXCLUSIVE: Opportunities for Australian cybersecurity

By Anthony Wong, President, ACS
Tuesday, 18 July, 2017

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Cybersecurity and ICT training and education should top priorities for both government and industry.

Even though cybersecurity has made its way to the top of the nation’s political agenda, due in part to the high-profile WannaCry and NotPetya attacks earlier this year, Australia lacks sufficient professionals to cope with the challenge of growing cybersecurity risks.

It is estimated that, internationally, there will be a shortage of approximately 1.3 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020. In Australia, the demand for cybersecurity services and jobs is anticipated to grow by at least 21% over the next five years — we will need an additional 81,000 skilled ICT professionals to fuel technology-led growth. Already, LinkedIn data gathered for the ACS 2017 Digital Pulse Report shows that computer and network security positions were in the top 10 job advertisements placed by Australian employers in 2016.

In response to this shortage of cybersecurity professionals, the federal government announced that the role of ICT Security Specialist would be added to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) for the first time, effective from 1 July 2017. Those applying for and working in ICT security specialist roles can now stay in Australia for up to four years, ensuring the country benefits from their expertise in this ever-evolving landscape.

Further to this, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, the Hon Dan Tehan, has outlined Australia’s strengthened cyber capabilities with the development of a new cyber division within the Australian Defence Forces. The government has directed the Australian Signals Directorate to use its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt, degrade, deny and deter offshore cybercriminals. This new division will need to fill more than 800 cybersecurity roles over the next 10 years.

Professor Jill Slay, director of the Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra and chair of the ACS Cyber Security Taskforce, said the move was about pulling together Australia’s cyber capacities as a joint function: “We have to grow our cyber capacity, as do the Americans and our other allies.”

Last November, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) hosted the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) President's Ministerial Forum where key issues concerning the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cyber resilience were explored, including the importance of staying on top of old and new cybersecurity threats.

In addition to this, the ACS has launched its Cybersecurity: Threats, Challenges and Opportunities guide, which identified five pillars of cyber readiness: education and awareness, planning and preparation, detection and recovery, sharing and collaboration, and ethics and certification. In May 2017, the ACS also launched the 2017 Digital Pulse Report, which included 13 policy recommendations for government — with cybersecurity and ICT training and education being priority initiatives.

Anthony Wong is President of the ACS and chairs the NSW ICT Advisory Panel. He is the Principal of multidisciplinary law and consulting firm AGW Lawyers & Consultants, specialising in IT and the digital economy. He has held senior management positions in multinational corporations and government, including as CIO of the Australian Tourist Commission during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Pictured: Anthony Wong.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you agree that Australia faces a cybersecurity skills shortfall? Do you have personal experience of strengths or weaknesses in cybersecurity education? Join the conversation by leaving your comments below.

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