With the Australian economy suffering billions in annual damage costs (an industry estimate of $29 billion, as of 2019) due to cyber security related incidents, it’s no surprise that the nation spends just as much to protect businesses from growing, incoming threats.
In fact, statistics predict an additional need for at least 17,600 workers by 2026, with the federal government currently investing in a new program (the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response package) to create 500 new jobs in the industry. Stable, lucrative cyber security career opportunities thus run plenty in this field – with cyber security engineers among the top most in-demand.
Tasked with assessing and improving the overall IT security of businesses – those with a knack for data analysis, creative problem-solving, and an interest in (ethical) hacking may find their ideal role as a cyber security engineer.
We dive into their common methods of digital protection, and how you can build such skills through a course with AIICT.
Investigating and preventing data breaches
Cyber security engineers keep security risks to a minimum by implementing the appropriate security measures for data, system, and network protection. This could include installing firewalls, enabling data encryption, using endpoint detection and response, and investing in quality anti-virus software, among other tools.
They may also monitor existing hardware and software for vulnerabilities, configuring or upgrading these elements as necessary; or design security tools specifically tailored to their business’ network. Ultimately, a cyber security engineer ensures that a proper, reliable security system is designed to effectively prevent any future data intrusions.
However, their role also typically assesses previous data breaches and the flaws in their current system that might have caused this. They may then work to improve security protocols, policies, and tools, as well as design effective plans of incident response in the case of future breaches. Findings may also be reported to upper management (or senior cyber security engineers, depending on the size of the company) as well as other IT teams to collaboratively enhance security efforts.
Conducting ongoing security assessments
As part of their data breach prevention, cyber security engineers will typically conduct ongoing security assessments to ensure the relevance, quality, and reliability of current tools and systems. A proper assessment of potential cyber risks can help inform IT teams, executives, and directors on their business’ current state of cybersecurity; highlight their digital and technological priorities and outline and any further action required.
To perform a thorough assessment, security engineers will often start by identifying and prioritising their assets and the key technology components. This will include general items such as their company hardware, software, and end-users – as well as more security-focused areas, such as their cyber security policies, architecture, controls, and storage protection. The next step is identifying potential (or previous) cyber threats (i.e. natural disasters, system failures, service disruption, human error), followed by identifying the current vulnerabilities of their system that could lead to such to risks.
This is then followed by improving existing controls or implementing new ones as necessary, though engineers will also analyse the likelihood and impact of such risks on a per-year basis. They will then prioritise these risks by high, medium, and low-risk levels – and determine the actions needed for each to mitigate these potential scenarios.
As part of their regular security assessments, cyber security engineers may also perform penetration tests. Also known as “pen tests”, this process involves simulating a cyber attack against one’s business systems – helping them check for any exploitable faults or vulnerabilities.
Pen testing typically runs in a repetitive stage cycle, where security engineers assess how a target responds to attempted intrusions, simulating attacks to reveal its vulnerabilities, exploiting said vulnerabilities, and configuring their current tools and systems as required to improve security – before running the entire process over again.
A fine attention to detail and strong problem-solving skills are thus critical to work in the role of a cyber security engineer, as the position largely involves extensive monitoring, investigation, and enhancement of one’s security systems.
Ensuring security compliance
Cyber security engineers also work to ensure a business complies with industry-standard security practices. Various Australian sectors have previously worked with existing guidelines (tailored to their specific field) for securing their systems and data, along with prescriptive requirements imposed by the Defence Industry Security Program (DISP).
However, 2020 saw the launch of a new task force by Standards Australia, responsible for establishing baseline cyber security standards and further, industry-specific security requirements. This development aims to improve cyber security efforts and practices across the country through “sector-specific initiatives and technical guidance, greater cooperation between technologies, and learning from global examples.”
Cyber security engineers help their businesses successfully adopt these new practices and ensure their protocols fall in line with such standards. This not only improve the company’s digital and data security, but also helps maintain their reputation and reliability.
Researching new industry developments
Of course, to stay on top of new standards, cyber security engineers must consistently keep up to date with industry updates and new developments. They keep note of any new technologies, practices, or regulations to come out, informing decision-makers and applying any necessary security changes in a considered manner.
With the cybersecurity field evolving at a constant, rapid pace, it can be easy to fall behind on the latest advancements. Aside from traditional sources such as news websites and blogs, security engineers may also join webinars, attend conferences, and follow industry professionals on social media – helping them stay atop the newest trends.
Undertaking an online cyber security course can also help them update their knowledge and further build on their existing skills. Plenty of online programs, such as those offered by the Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT), lead to internationally-recognised certifications; verifying the relevance and quality of their skillset, as well as helping them stand out in the job market.
By staying knowledgeable of the latest developments, cyber security engineers keep themselves well-equipped with newer, better ways of maintaining or enhancing business security.
Build these cybersecurity skills and more through an online course!
As mentioned, AIICT currently offers comprehensive online courses for those seeking to build their skills or pursue a career in cyber security.
Aspiring cyber security engineers can pursue our ICT50220 – Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security) – a course that explores the effective design, analysis, testing and implementation of security technologies. Those new to the field and looking to build a more generalised skillset can undertake our Certified Cyber Security Professional program, a course that develops one’s foundational skills in networking, security, and IT support. Additionally, those who complete the program achieve three certifications under the globally-recognised IT leader, CompTIA.
Both courses are delivered online, helping students train at a time, place, and pace that suits them best.
Step into a field of blooming opportunity and 0% employment – and enquire with us on a course today.