Introduction

The rapid evolution of internet connected systems, along with our increased reliance on (often sensitive or confidential) data to run our modern lives, leaves us more vulnerable than ever to malicious online attacks. Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, as companies increasingly recognise the need safeguard their online systems and stay a step ahead of cybercriminals. What exactly does a cybersecurity professional do, what skills are needed, and why is this an ideal career to pursue?

Cybercrimes are on the rise 

In the wake of the recent Medibank security breach, which saw hackers publicly release the confidential health data of 9.7 million customers after Medibank refused to pay a $15 million ransom, Australians hardly need to be reminded of the importance of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, cybercrimes are growing at alarming rates each year, costing Australian businesses around $29 billion annually. Businesses are scrambling to hire qualified professionals who can protect them against such crimes, but the market is struggling to keep up with demand. The Australian government has invested over $230 million into addressing this issue, as the country battles to address an expanding skills gap in the cybersecurity space. In short, this dynamic has created the perfect storm for those wanting to pursue a career in cybersecurity.

Cyber criminal hacker at computer stealing data

What does a cybersecurity professional do?

Cybersecurity professionals wear many hats. Part construction managers, part detectives, part undercover police officers, their main priority is to prevent attacks by fixing issues that could be exploited by cybercriminals. They are responsible for finding weaknesses in databases, firewalls, hardware and encryption and resolving those issues…staying one step ahead of those with malevolent intent. It’s a jungle out there in the online world and cybersecurity professionals are essential to protect the stability of the internet and the security of its users.

 

Role types within the industry include:

 

  • Chief security officer – the executive responsible for the cybersecurity of a company
  • Security engineer – protect company assets from threats, focusing on quality control within the IT infrastructure
  • Security architects – responsible for planning, evaluating, designing, testing, preserving and supporting a company’s critical infrastructure
  • Penetration testers – ethical hackers who test the security of systems, networks and applications
  • Security analyst – aim to uncover vulnerabilities and attacks and address them before they compromise a business 

 

Depending on the role, a day in the life of a cybersecurity professional may include tasks like writing reports, monitoring traffic, planning for future upgrades, finding potential risks and – in the event of an attack – working around the clock to mitigate damage and re-establish security systems.

Cybersecurity manager and engineer working together

What skills does a cybersecurity professional need? 

To thrive as a cybersecurity professional, a mix of technical and interpersonal skills are needed. Technical skills required may include intrusion detection (the ability to monitor networks and conduct event log analysis), endpoint management (knowing how to secure multiple endpoints like computers, phones, and IoT devices), programming (understanding JavaScript, Python, etc), and data security (understanding encryption, internet protocols, etc). Workplace skills essential to this profession include attention to detail, excellent communication skills, critical thinking, curiosity to constantly learn and adapt, and the ability to remain calm under pressure.

Cybersecurity technician managing data security

Why pursue a career in cybersecurity? 

Studies show that to meet the soaring demand for cybersecurity professionals, Australia will require 18,000 workers between now and 2027. That’s a lot of opportunities across varying industries. And as with any high demand jobs, there are often lofty salaries to match. For those with a growth mindset, this is a field that is constantly evolving, with new trends, technologies and threats emerging each year. There is little chance of stagnating or being unchallenged in this industry, which can lead to quite an exciting career trajectory. A career in cybersecurity can also be very rewarding in the sense that you can use your skills to protect others from harm. Not often in the limelight, cybersecurity professionals are the unsung heroes of the internet, working behind the scenes to make the online space safer for everyone.

Where to next?

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