Cybersecurity has risen to staggering prominence in Australia’s IT field; earning the economy an annual revenue of $2.2 billion – a number that’s set to triple in the coming years to 2026. Our external spending is even higher, hitting nearly $4 billion in 2019 alone.
The industry’s rapid expansion has placed professionals in high demand, with reports citing the need for 18,000 more cybersecurity experts by 2026. With flourishing opportunities for job security, high annual earnings and multiple specialisations, there’s never been a more opportune time to jump into the field.
Below, we outline how one can learn cybersecurity like a professional – including the skills and experience required, and how AIICT’s course can help.
The hard and soft skills of cybersecurity
A successful cybersecurity career calls for a combination of both soft and technical skills.
As with many IT careers, the industry favours those of excellent problem-solving and communication skills. These same abilities, however, are also among the top three most difficult to find among cybersecurity applicants – according to panellists of the 2018 Wall Street Journal cybersecurity forum.
Problem-solving is especially crucial during moments of troubleshooting and seeking out the vulnerabilities in one’s IT systems. The ability to level-headedly manage issues through both a critical and creative approach can help one more productively mitigate risk, as well as perform damage control.
Attention to detail – yet another soft skill – goes hand-in-hand with this, as you’ll need to a keen to analyse activity logs for suspicious behaviour, inconsistencies in code, and the root of a data breach.
Of course, communication is also a must – as cybersecurity experts often present technical information to stakeholders (while typically translating these into plain language), develop security policies, and train employees in best practices.
Finally, employers are drawn to proactive learners, as the landscape of cybersecurity constantly evolves. Professionals not only require strong research skills to keep up with industry developments and security practices; but passion to drive them towards this continuous flow of information.
Hard skills, on the other hand, are the technical competencies one generally acquires through formal training and certifications.
With the broad range of specialisations in cybersecurity, the technical skills are plenty. Incident management and response are among those most commonly sought-after; as cybercrime continues to skyrocket by the year (with a 78.68% increase in data loss and theft between 2018-2019), experts are increasingly needed for their ability to identify, isolate, and eliminate threats.
In a similar vein, high value is also placed on risk analysis and mitigation – the ability foresee threats and attacks that could potential befall the system, and implement the appropriate safeguards as necessary.
With ethical hacking (also known as “penetration testing”) as a popular specialised field, professionals will also benefit from understanding “blackhat” practices and how they’re applied within a criminal context. This helps them better prepare from potential attacks and formulate more effective contingency plans for counteracting them.
Other valuable technical skills in the cybersecurity field include knowledge of cloud security, programming abilities, malware analysis and reversal, audit and compliance, and mobile device management.
Where does one build experience?
Like any other profession, a successful cybersecurity career requires plenty of practical experience.
Aspiring experts can start simple, testing their skills through contributions to open-source projects. A multitude of online communities and forums offer opportunities to collaborate with individuals around the world; with “Github” being a leading platform. All projects are open to the public, allowing you to easily add them to your resume for potential employers to see.
Then there are internships, which place you in the middle of an actual IT environment and provide you with day-in-the-life insight of a full-time cybersecurity expert. These placements also give you a chance to put your training to practice, and tackle the real-world, everyday problems of a security professional.
At the same, the opportunity to work among veteran experts can further your existing knowledge and skills; as you’re able to “shadow” and directly learn from the best. Working with others in a physical setting can also sharpen your collaborative and communication skills – as well as expose yourself to various working styles and personalities.
This also builds on your professional network, creating new doors of potential career opportunities for the future.
Similarly, networking events and conferences allow you to meet up with like-minded professionals; learn from their technical knowledge and industry experience, and acquire new information you may have missed on the field.
The latest cybersecurity conferences in Australia are regularly updated through Infosec Conferences’ website, along with an archive of previous events.
Choosing your education
Of course, formal education can be incredibly helpful in building (and/or polishing) your cybersecurity skills.
To address our growing skills gap, the Australian government has fortunately invested a whopping $230 million in the country’s cybersecurity sector. Titled the “Cyber Security Strategy”, such funding has been implemented since 2016, in support of the growth, innovation, and training within the industry.
Plenty of training opportunities have thus been created for aspiring security experts, primarily in the form of higher education or VET programs (an initiative under the government’s Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence).
Deciding on the best-suited pathway for you depends on your needs and learning style.
Higher education degrees are typically more focused on academia and theory; granting you a well-rounded knowledge of the field that not only involves practical expertise, but the abstract and theoretical areas involved (such as applied psychology and social engineering).
VET courses are far more hands-on, equipping their students with work-ready, employable skills for easily seeking a job post-graduation. Such programs focus on sharpening one’s practical skills in a specialised area; those looking to train past cybersecurity fundamentals can find options under network defence, cloud security, and cybersecurity practices under specific providers (e.g. Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Cisco, etc.).
Due to their practical focus, VET study is a popular option among cybersecurity professionals – directly training them for the workforce and helping them adapt to upcoming trends and changing market demands.
Why pursue AIICT’s cybersecurity course?
Those looking towards VET education pathways can acquire valuable training through AIICT’s Certified Cybersecurity Professional course.
Designed for anyone between zero to basic industry experience, the program explores foundational skills in IT networking, disaster recovery, cryptography, identity and access management, and plenty more. Along with technical competencies, students are also trained the soft skills required for successful employment. These include the development of critical thinking, project agility, influencing, relationship-building, communication, and risk management abilities.
Course completion results in three in-demand certifications, all provided by CompTIA – the leading worldwide provider in vendor-neutral IT qualifications (with over 2 million certifications offered across countries). These credentials are CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+.
Students acquire these certifications through the successful passing of four exams, all of which are included in the course. The program also provides a wide range of materials – including video content, demonstration labs, and online quizzes – all of which are delivered online. A platform is also provided with which students can compete with other classmates through simulated, real-world security attacks.
The flexible delivery of the program allows individuals to tailor their education according to personal needs and commitments; this provides the opportunity to train while tending to other full-time work or studies. Additionally, students will have access to AIICT’s Industry Partner Program, helping them build connections with some of the best companies in the industry.
Get the formal – yet practical – training you need to pursue a lucrative career in cybersecurity, and enquire with us on the course today.