The many faces of cybersecurity

The many faces of cybersecurity

Almost everything can be connected to the internet — or it will be, in the coming years.

But if our doors are locked by smart home devices, unlocking them just needs a keyboard and some know-how. If you can pay for a coffee with your phone or watch, what will the next generation of thieves look like? World War III could be fought in drone strikes and infrastructure hacks.

With the rise of the Internet of Things, advanced cybersecurity will need to be considered every step of the way. And it’ll need to be addressed at all levels by individuals, companies and governments.

For that, we need people of all skillsets and backgrounds.

A growing demand

La Trobe University cybersecurity expert Professor Jill Slay says there are millions of jobs available internationally across the technical, legal, policy, business and behavioural fields of cybersecurity. In Australia alone, she expects there to be up to 9,000 vacancies in the next few years. So if you’re after a career in cybersecurity, according to Professor Slay, ‘You’ll never be unemployed.’

And it’s not just a high demand. There will also be high salaries on offer. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for information security analysts is USD$88,890 per year, with the top tier earning over USD$140,460.

Cybersecurity is about people

Even if a computer or network has been built as a virtual fortress of cybersecurity, people will always be a weak link.

Cybersecurity can no longer be isolated to IT departments. To find the root cause of issues, the cybersecurity industry needs people from all walks of life, from coders to psychologists.

Some of the largest cyberthreats involve phishing attacks. These attacks are very difficult to defend against because they’re aimed at people. We need psychologists and criminology experts who can read people – who can understand motivations while also understanding the weaknesses in systems. They’ll help us stay one step ahead of hackers and train employees to safeguard against phishing attacks.

People trained in business and finance can integrate cybersecurity into companies of all sizes. They’ll be on the forefront of blockchain and cryptocurrency. They’ll work for banks, utility providers, food manufacturers and suppliers, technology innovators, start-ups and even small business.

And new technologies open the door to unexpected possibilities. So we need people who can create legal and ethical frameworks for dealing with the new challenges posed by cybersecurity: lawyers, judges, law makers.

You don’t need to know technology to study cybersecurity

Think outside the box. Almost any background could make you a better cybersecurity expert. Trained in nursing? Bring your knowledge of health data to design information infrastructure and security for hospitals. Are you a passionate writer? Find your niche in creating publications and resources to help the public understand their cybersecurity risk. And the next generation will be exposed to online threats their whole lives, so we need educators who can teach us how to navigate our lives online.

Employers tell us they need multidisciplinary solutions to ever-evolving cyber threats. So we offer a range of cybersecurity degrees that span a variety of interests. You can specialise in computer science, business operations or law. In fact, we’re the only university in Australia offering a cybersecurity degree with a specialisation in law.

This means our cybersecurity students come to our degrees from diverse backgrounds.

Maha Afaneh, who is currently completing the final year of her Master of Cybersecurity (Computer Science), discovered her love of cybersecurity while studying her criminology degree.

‘I’ve always had an interest in technical areas, so I didn’t let having a non-technical degree stop me.’

Maha has already secured an exciting job for next year through a graduate program at Deloitte, where adjunct professor at La Trobe Puneet Kukreja is one of the partners.

Meanwhile, second year Bachelor of Cybersecurity student and Optus Cybersecurity Scholar Emily Pendlebury switched from nursing and midwifery to cybersecurity, although she doesn’t consider herself a tech wizard.

‘I decided to do the course because I really enjoy working with people, problem-solving and the exciting technology space. I’m loving my course because I’ve got such a broad range of options to learn, from how to develop web applications, to networking, to databases, I’m constantly learning new things.’

Emily says she’d love to work in artificial intelligence and as a manager of a diverse team — maybe at Google. In fact, Emily already has connections with the tech giant after landing a place in the Google Women Techmakers Scholar Program.

By the time she graduates, she’ll have the experience, leadership and business skills to pursue her career. Of course, she’ll also have a technical understanding of cybersecurity.

‘I think the underlying assumption that you must know everything about technology to study it is deterring people away from the course, but you don’t go into nursing expecting to know how the human body works and functions – if you’re interested in it, you’ll learn it!’

Find your passion at the forefront of an exciting and in-demand career. Discover our undergraduate and postgraduate cybersecurity degrees.

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