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Monday, 29 October 2018 12:19

Australia needs 19,000 security professionals by 2019

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 The Australian Government is strugglling to on-board cyber security specialists, with 19,000 needed urgently by next year, according to an opposition cyber security spokesperson.

Giving the keynote address at the recent ISACA 'CACS' Conference in Melbourne, Gai Brodtmann, Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence, had some interesting remarks in relation to the difficulty in obtaining and retaining cyber security expertise, particularly in government roles.

Brodtmann commenced her remarks with the observation, "In Australia, we will need 19,000 cyber security professionals by next year. We need cyber security experts yesterday and we need them in a broad range of skills, from coders to policy makers. So, how do we get them quick-smart?

"We need to think creatively and we need to think laterally. We need to learn from other nations. We need to think about compressing undergraduate degrees into two years which will include industry experience, again some other nations are considering that. We need to think about intensive degrees, where the students study throughout the year with no break, completing the degree in 12 months.

"We need to think about pathway degrees and diplomas and certificates that can be completed in a summer school. We need to think about pathways through primary and secondary school for cybersecurity careers, identifying talent early and fostering and nurturing it through the education process – this is being seen in Western Australia and in Israel."

But there are bigger issues, particularly around security clearance which (as she observes) can take as long as two years to complete.

Brodtmann continued, "We need to think about managing the security risk of newcomers who are awaiting their positive vet [security vetting to 'Secret' 'Top Secret' etc.], getting them into the workforce, but keeping them on less sensitive work until they are cleared or graduating them up the scale as their positive vet progresses, and again this is something the US is looking at, at the moment.

"We need to think about starting the positive vetting process during high school and TAFE or university, so graduates aren't stretching a living together through a series of part-time jobs for two years while they're waiting for their clearance. And quite often they pull out of the system because two years is a long time to wait."

Indeed. Why would anyone good enough to do the job for government wait two years before they can actually do the work. Private industry beckons; with much higher salaries too.

The author attended the conference as a guest of the organisers.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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