Jobs up for grabs in cyber security

THERE is a major push from government under the new cyber security strategy to build our professional base.

This week I'm giving a presentation to Caloundra State School students on being cyber-safe and cyber-responsible. It's also an opportunity to plant a seed in their minds about future careers.

Mostly these types of opportunities have been limited to high school students. That's starting to get a little too late to begin raising awareness of the uniqueness of what happens online and also where the physical world and its expectations converge with the virtual world.

Cyber teachings can't be left as a mere elective in high school. It must be something that's incorporated as part of the whole curriculum, and something that must be incorporated early.

Put simply, Australia's cyber security industry must have greater numbers of women participate. If Australia's Cyber Security Awards in May were any litmus test, in a crowd of 500 you'd be lucky to spot more than a dozen women.

Earlier this year, Steve Morgan, editor of The Cyber Security Market Report, revealed that only 11% of the world's information security workforce are women.

US-based Morgan revealed that more than a million cyber security job openings alone in the US were offered and around 200,000 remained unfilled.

By 2019, the global demand for new openings in cyber security will reach six million positions. Based on current shortfalls, the industry needs to re-image itself and promote that women have a role and contribution to make in cyber security.

Put aside the fact that we all have a brain and a contribution to make, I always find it staggering why organisations and professions fight with one hand behind their back by not addressing this shortfall.

Last week I briefed a major critical infrastructure women's network on cyber and identity security. The room was packed.

It was to some extent familiar surrounds as a father of four girls and a member of an organisation where nine in 10 staff and volunteers are women. What was inspiring about that event was that no one was paid to be there; it was pure interest in the subject that drove attendance.

Inspiring change, attracting women and shifting industry norms and behaviours are going to take more than a government announcement to invest in cyber security education.

It is going to need to start within the walls of primary schools, continue through high school, and hopefully, through tertiary and vocational education, empower women to enter a workforce that cannot do without their talent, contribution and numbers.

Professor David Lacey is a Senior Research Fellow in Cyber Security at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Managing Director of IDCARE.

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