Australian Cyber Security Skills Shortage. What’s the deal?
Cyber threats have become more numerous and sophisticated in Australia, which relies heavily on technology for its economy to thrive.
The Annual Cyber Threat Report released by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), July 2021/22, highlighted over 76,000 cybercrime reports, an increase of 13% year-on-year.
Businesses and Government are concerned about this alarming rate and the potential impact on their businesses.
In the last 60 x days, a number of large enterprises in Australia have seen significant cybersecurity breaches. These massive breaches have compromised the personal information of more than 20 million customers combined, with estimates this could represent almost 40% of the country’s population.
Has it served as a wake-up call? Maybe.
But the threat of breaches has existed long before these recent incidents.
Businesses and Government must safeguard themselves against all threats, including malware, ransomware, hackers, viruses, and other online risks.
Ransomware continues to be the most harmful cybercrime, focusing on the reputation of Australian companies. Criminal or hostile state actors steal personal information and use them to extort or gain an advantage. Companies and Government can lose critical data, intellectual property, and in the process, a large number of customers.
Cybercrime actors continually scan company networks looking for gaps or lapses they can use as entry points. Unless prevented, gaining entry to critical infrastructure will give these malicious actors access to valuable information, data, and essential services.
Companies can suffer massive losses. Small and medium businesses can fail from operational disruption, loss of customers, or the lack of funds to cover the impact. Regrettably, some don’t survive.
For instance, the average cost for small businesses is over $39,000. Medium businesses, $88,000 and large, more than $62,000. Larger companies often have deeper pockets, helping them to swim. It’s a different case for small and medium enterprises.
How can Australian companies address the issue?
Cyber defence must be a top priority for every Australian in light of the growing risks to the country’s digitally dependent economy. Every organisation needs a cyber-literate workforce with competent knowledge in protecting the company’s digital assets.
Cyber literacy is critical since all Australian companies use the internet to do business. Regardless of what they do, everyone in the company should acquire skills to help them secure their workplace from cyber threats.
Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and have found ways to trick workers into clicking websites and links, causing companies to become vulnerable. Even the most cyber-literate employees will need professional assistance from trained cybersecurity experts.
These experts are responsible for planning and implementing security measures to defend computer networks and systems against cyberattacks. The main tasks include monitoring, detection, investigation, analysis, and response.
Several organisations in Australia are developing their cyber defence teams in response to cybersecurity concerns. Some build them in-house, while others outsource their cybersecurity needs to external service providers.
However, companies face a hindrance to building their cybersecurity teams: skills shortage.
Skills Shortage in Cybersecurity
The Australian cyber skills gap is reaching a crisis point at a time when the country is facing a rise in attacks. Without the support of expert cybersecurity professionals, businesses and the Government cannot build and maintain effective lines of defence. In many cases, they only realise a breach after the event. With the right expertise and tools, professionally designed and operated cyber security services can be an important part of a preventative strategy, repelling attacks before the damage is done.
The latest 2022 Skills Priority List release from the Australian Government shows a shortage of all cybersecurity-related jobs.
The country’s education system addresses the skills shortage by launching new cybersecurity degrees and courses, an essential pillar in building security capability. But it is a medium to long-term approach. This pipeline of graduates trickle feeds into the industry. It takes years of hands-on commercial experience for these graduates to reach an acceptable knowledge level to make a real difference. Meanwhile, the attacks continue, and Businesses and Government remain vulnerable. Continued attacks can have a tangible impact on consumer confidence, especially if inflicted downtimes impact financial services or critical infrastructure, such as utilities.
The vital need for cybersecurity experts is projected to continue. By 2026, Australia is expected to require an additional 16,600 people in the field of cybersecurity. Reducing the widening gap will need to be tackled at multiple levels.
Meeting the threats and building national capability requires an open-minded approach. It will take a coordinated and concerted effort from all stakeholders. Government and industry must embrace “re-tooling” the workforce to add security skills that bring business knowledge. The education system needs to continue to nurture graduates at an entry level. Immigration of skilled security professionals will help with more pressing demands. And (as the pandemic demonstrated), remote (and sometimes offshore) based cybersecurity services will provide an immediate line of defence.
Skilled immigration and remote offshore solutions can be controversial solutions for some stakeholders.
However, these options need to be on the table and considered as part of a larger defence strategy.
What we all seem to agree on is that Australia needs cybersecurity experts now.
How can DysrupIT help?
DysrupIT can help with bigger-picture approaches to bolster Australia’s cyber security readiness. As an Australian IT Services provider, we work with Australian companies and governments to help solve their business challenges, from digital transformation to cybersecurity.
Our Cyber Security Team works 24 x 7, identifying and responding to all forms of cyber threats to which our clients and partners are exposed. Our local Team will design a security solution that fits your specific requirements and budget. At the same time, our Philippines-based Global Security Hub will continually watch over your operations, from coast-to-coast and beyond, all day, every day, identifying and responding to immediate and future threats.
Cyber threats are an everyday part of running a business. Talk to one of our local experts for a pragmatic discussion (in plain English) on how you can protect it.
We take Cyber Security seriously. Email [email protected] to learn more or book a free consult today.
Elizabeth knows the ins and outs of technology focused on cybersecurity, serving many years in senior management positions and creating incredible customer experiences. She’s built an international career, cultivating high-performing teams across 8 different countries across Asia-Pacific and Japan, before founding DysrupIT.