An ongoing shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers in Australia has resulted in a tremendous increase in the number of cyber attacks and the costs associated therewith. Some of the country’s largest companies have fallen victim to hackers, exposing the personal data of millions of Australians.
The word has gotten out within the cybercriminal community that Australian organizations are especially vulnerable. Cybersecurity experts now say that bad actors are treating this as a game, trying to outdo one another by seeing who can inflict the most damage. Meanwhile, backlogs within the government are preventing skilled tech workers from migrating to the country to fill job vacancies. Learn how you can be part of the solution with cybersecurity training & courses.
How Bad is the Surge in Cyber Attacks?
According to a report published by Reuters.com, hacks of Medibank, Australia’s largest provider of health insurance, and Optus, the country’s second-largest telecom company, exposed the data of 14 million customers. That’s equivalent to about 54% of the nation’s entire population. At the end of September 2022, the possible breach of a company that provides communications for military personnel was disclosed. Many other organizations large and small are being hit as well.
During the first year of the pandemic leading up to June 2021, the number of disclosed breaches rose by 13% with damages estimated to be $21 billion, according to the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC). The ACSC predicts that the numbers will show another increase when they are compiled for 2022.
Insurance provider Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc says that organizations paying for cybersecurity insurance have seen premium increases averaging 56% during the year ending June 30, 2022.
How Did This Happen? A Lack of Cybersecurity Training & Courses
The COVID pandemic triggered many changes worldwide, and very few of them were positive. Australia closed its borders and did not reopen them until late in 2021. When the border did reopen, immigration officials began processing a huge backlog of visa applications. By the end of October 2022, there were still about a million of these applications waiting to be reviewed. According to a Reuters article, many of them were submitted by individuals interested in filling technology positions that had been advertised internationally by desperate Australian companies.
Cybersecurity experts say that, because it is short-staffed, the existing technology workforce in Australia is being pushed beyond reasonable limits. Those who have studied the breaches have also found that most of them resulted from human error, indicating that companies unable to fully staff their IT teams are also falling short when it comes to providing effective cybersecurity training to their employees.
Added to these risk factors are the vulnerabilities associated with transitioning to remote and hybrid work models as a result of the pandemic. Many companies were unprepared for this transition. Remote workers introduce a whole new set of vulnerabilities including the connection of personal devices to company networks and resources, the use of remote connectivity solutions with known vulnerabilities, and more.
If all of this wasn’t bad enough, you can now buy hacking software online – you don’t even need to be that technologically savvy to effectively use these malicious applications.
What’s Being Done to Address the Problem?
While the Australian government works to catch up on the immigration backlog, others are taking it upon themselves to address the shortage of trained information security personnel.
Reuters reported that Neil Curtis, an Australian cybersecurity specialist working with a U.S. company called DXC Technology, is helping to train military veterans in the information security field to help fill the need. Curtis told Reuters that he was contacted by one of Australia’s largest companies and was advised that they would take every trained veteran that Curtis could provide.
Organizations are offering sign-on bonuses and higher salaries for tech workers to attract talent. According to the Glassdoor job search website, the base salary for IT security employees has risen to $70,000. The problem is the fact that there aren’t enough trained personnel in Australia to meet the demand and other qualified individuals are still waiting to be let in by immigration officials.
What Companies Can Do
Out of hardships like this one often comes opportunity. In Australia as well as in other parts of the world, the COVID pandemic spawned an increase in “as a service” technology providers. When tech workers are in short supply, why not share a skilled team? That’s what these providers make possible.
Organizations can turn virtually all or part of their IT needs over to a third-party cloud service provider. They can save money by doing so and will not need to hire their own personnel at a time when they are in very short supply. A quality provider will have trained and experienced staff and can provide infrastructure as well. Security as a Service (SECaaS) may very well be the right solution for many Australian companies.
Since many of the breaches have been made possible due to human error, there is an obvious deficiency in cybersecurity training that needs to be addressed. Fortunately, there are many quality providers of online IT security training from which to choose.
Phishing is a top threat. To combat the problem, some training providers offer phishing simulations. Employees receive emails that mimic actual messages currently being used by attackers. How the employees respond is tracked. Metrics are periodically provided to the employer to indicate which employees need more training.
What You Can Do
I began my college career at age 45. I ended up in my dream job working at NASA providing direct support to the astronauts and those who design spacecraft. If you’ve been considering a career change but you’re not a kid anymore, perhaps this will inspire you. There are online information security courses and certifications offered by providers including Google. In a matter of months, you can acquire the skills and certification necessary to land a job in cybersecurity.
If you’re young and looking for a career with a bright future, you may want to consider cybersecurity training & courses. Again, there are online certification courses available that could set you on a path to a very lucrative career without having to go to college for years.
Now is the time to start this new career path. Salaries are up, hiring bonuses are being offered and the demand for trained cybersecurity personnel in Australia is at an all-time high. Until the government catches up on the backlog of immigration applications from those seeking to fill the cybersecurity need, companies will continue to actively seek new talent. Take advantage of the situation and help to make cyber criminals’ lives more difficult in the process.
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