Cyber security roles set to flourish in SA

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By David Sly

As new industry opportunities grow in South Australia, so too does the demand for employee technical expertise in other supportive areas – with cyber security proving to be of principal importance for companies striving to have international relevance and interactivity.

While cyber security represents a significant future career, is not new – though it has swiftly grown and intensified in recent decades. It entered business consciousness after email viruses began spreading from late 1990s, then after credit card information was regularly being breached, and now cyber breaches can take out company or government infrastructure and create massive data leaks.

To remain ahead of this fast-changing technological environment, there is a pressing need to develop more cyber security resources in SA, which will stimulate a raft of new employment and career opportunities.

This is the view of Nathan Morelli, Adelaide-based Cyber Security Specialist for Naval Group Australia – the international design and build partner for Australia’s $50 billion Future Submarine Program.

As part of the engineering team at Naval Group Australia, Nathan is responsible for ensuring that Future Submarines meet the cyber worthiness criteria of the Royal Australian Navy.

“Our role is to protect mission critical information that will be housed on the boats and ensure the right level of protections are in place. It’s exciting stuff,” says Nathan.

“Cyber security is all about ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information when it’s needed. Whether it be a submarine or a medical record, the same circumstances regarding its security applies.”

According to data from Smart Company, only one third of Australian businesses are adequately backing up digital data to be secure – which means that two thirds of businesses remain vulnerable to cyber interference.

Addressing this problem will take considerable time, due to the current shortage of job-ready cyber security staff available to get jobs done. AustCyber predicts Australia needs more than 18,000 cyber security workers by 2026 to meet demand.

“To achieve this, we need four times the current number of graduates,” Nathan warns, noting that the Future Submarine Program will be quick to snap up a significant proportion of future graduates.

“In defense industries, tech has changed quickly. Infrastructure on land, sea and sky all have robotisation, and therefore every piece has a cyber-component to it. Being on top of this is a key deliverable for the navy, so we need a larger cyber security workforce now in SA.”

Nathan’s career in cyber security came after he studied accounting at university, then worked as an accountant at a mushroom farm, when he also helped recover accidently deleted data and fix unsecured IT backups. Finding this IT focus an attractive challenge, he changed his studies to focus on information security courses, obtained a degree, then worked within an information risk management team, before focusing on network information security.

He recalls such early office challenges as trying to contain a cyber virus outbreak after people clicked on a bad link in their email. That organisation did not have any process in place to communicate all-staff messages, so Nathan had the building’s Fire Warden broadcast a message over the PA system, informing people for an hour to delete the offending emails.

“It slowed the outbreak, but it still took three months to clean up 350 contaminated laptops. Three years later, it took less than three days to clean up a similar incident,” he says.

Beyond his work for Naval Group Australia, Nathan is also chair for the Adelaide Branch of the Australian Information Security Association, which brings together cyber security professionals to collaborate on solutions for common problems.

He was also in the national spotlight for leading the implementation strategy of the Adelaide Joint Cyber Security Centre, which was launched before an audience of prominent politicians and media in November 2018. “It emphasised that a lot of hard work had gone into creating the centre. It was a real career highlight for me so far.”

Nathan says the path ahead involves demystifying cyber security for most people and highlighting the appeal of working within such a progressive technological environment.

“A major challenge is to shift the cyber security narrative away from fearing cyber to better managing risks and improving processes,” he says. “I call this removing the handbrake to happiness.”

Industry in focus: Careers of the Future

Throughout the months of May and June, future careers in South Australia will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

Embracing innovation, creativity and an understanding of building quality partnerships with technology is key to ensuring career opportunities in the future. SA is taking necessary steps to equip future generations with the skills for future careers and current workforces to transition to the future industries.

Read more Careers of the Future stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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