As the world has become increasingly connected, so too the need for security to protect those connections. For a long time, cyber security was as shrouded in mystery as the threats it was attempting to nullify, but with the recent Facebook data scandal, and the almost monthly announcements of breaches from giant companies like Sony, eBay, and Yahoo, the industry has been attracting attention.
A market that just keeps on growing
The cyber security market in Australia is expected to be worth more than $200 billion by 2020. Digital technology is an inexorable part of daily life and with its advantages comes the inevitable crime and malicious activity. As more business and personal communication is conducted with 1s and 0s, the cyber security industry needs to remain a step ahead the whole way.
There are roles, such as ethical hackers, that are designed to find exploitable errors and entry points before a criminal can take advantage, while others like digital forensics are aimed at gathering evidence and conducting an investigation after an attack. Other top roles include:
- Security auditor
- Security software developer
- Security consultant
Tertiary education is vital for roles such as these, with all requiring a degree-level qualification, and many also needing further postgrad study.
IT hasn’t escaped the skills shortage
Despite this boom in the cyber security industry, the information field of study has seen a significant decrease in enrolments since 2001. Across Australia, this field has seen a 27 per cent drop in students commencing computing-related degrees. A potential reason for this is that other fields are now including technology-based elements in their courses, meaning that there is no need to study a separate IT subject, which is leaving the pure computing disciplines under-enrolled.
Another factor is that the sheer number of roles available. According to the Labour Market Information Portal, the computer system design and related services industry is expected to grow by almost 25 per cent over the next few years, which means that qualified professionals will be in demand for the foreseeable future.
While IT is traditionally a male-dominated field, perhaps the answer to the shortage of professionals to fill these roles is encouraging more girls and women to enter the industry. In the interim, utilising appropriately skilled and experienced migrants could be a valuable short-term solution.