Cyber security is a huge growth industry in Australia, set to increase by 18,000 jobs in the next few years. Here’s how you can start your cyber career.
Cyber security analysts protect technology assets, systems and data from cyber threats. They are the lynchpins in our defences against cybercrime, protecting organisations from threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing and identity theft.
What is cyber security?
Outsmarting cyber criminals is a constant battle. As their attacks get bigger, smarter and more sophisticated, so too must our defences against them. Cyber security is a specialisation within IT that focuses on protecting computer systems and digital assets from these attacks. Without it, everything from your banking password to the critical infrastructure we rely on every day would be vulnerable.
Cyber security is often confused with information security, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. While they have a lot in common, information security is about protecting data, whereas cyber security encompasses all aspects of technology including networks and devices.
Why is cyber security important?
With so much of our lives conducted online these days, we would all be in a lot of trouble without cyber security. Even huge tech companies like Yahoo and Facebook have fallen prey to hackers stealing millions of users’ passwords and publishing them online. This can lead to identity theft.
For businesses and governments, cyber security is a very serious matter. For one thing, they have a responsibility to protect the privacy of their customers and users who have provided them with personal information, so keeping that data safe is of paramount importance.
They also need to protect their commercial secrets, systems and infrastructure from sabotage, theft or ransom. A cybercrime is reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre every eight minutes on average, and financial losses totalled more than $33 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. The effects of cybercrime can be devastating, to both individuals and organisations.
What is a cyber security analyst?
Cyber security analysts are the workers at the frontline of our digital defences. They work in IT departments and consultancy firms to protect organisations from cyber threats and respond to any breaches of security that do occur.
Some cyber security professionals, called penetration testers, get to play the role of a hacker. Their job is to ‘attack’ a computer system and uncover any weaknesses so they can be dealt with. Thinking like a hacker is a key part of any cyber security role in order to keep one step ahead of the bad guys.
Is cyber security a good career?
Cyber security is big business in Australia—in fact, the government considers it one of six industry sectors that are vital to Australia’s long-term economy. That means that the government is invested in growing the sector and creating new jobs, leading to more opportunities and job security for people with the right skills.
The Australian cyber security market was worth $5.6 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow to $7.4 billion by 2024. Employment in cyber security is growing at a rate of 6% a year, far exceeding the overall workforce growth rate of 2%.
IT specialists with cyber skills are in hot demand, and it’s likely to stay that way for some time. On top of that, it is interesting work with plenty of challenges and opportunities for career progression.
Does that sound like a good career to you?
What is a typical cyber security salary?
Your salary as a cyber security analyst will depend on where you work, your level of experience and whether or not you decide to specialise in a particular area. To give you an idea, at the time of publication the average cyber security salary in Australia was $77,842 a year. Entry-level analysts can expect to earn around $68,000, while someone with more than 10 years of experience is likely to be earning over $100,000.
To get the latest information on cyber security salaries, visit Payscale.
How to start a career in cyber security
Cyber security professionals need a solid foundation in IT before they can specialise. A bachelor degree in computer science or information technology will teach you the fundamentals of programming, networking and databases to get you started.
From there you can find an entry-level position to gain some industry experience, or go straight into postgraduate study to specialise in cyber security. It’s not uncommon for IT professionals to study part-time while they work in the industry, so there’s bound to be an option that works for you.
Industry certifications also play a big role in any IT career. Completing certifications such as Security+, Network+, CCNA, CISSP or Certified Ethical Hacker will help demonstrate to employers that you have up-to-date and relevant skills.
Want to explore this high-growth career? Check out the online cyber security courses available with leading universities.