Globalisation, automation and rapidly changing needs mean the future of employment will probably look very different to now. In fact, many current careers won’t exist in the next 10 to 20 years. So, it’s critical that students ask the important question: ‘Will my chosen study path lead to strong job opportunities after graduation and beyond?’

In this series we’re exploring a range of occupations forecast to have strong employment prospects in the future. Some careers in the tech industry are quickly emerging. Plus, there are other existing careers that will also have an important place in the employment opportunities of tomorrow.

With growing awareness of cyber risks all over the world, today, we’re looking at cyber security.

WHY CYBER SECURITY?

We all like to think we can completely trust our online platforms. However, the fact is that we don’t always know where our data is going, or who we are actually revealing our information to. Remember the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal? In general, most of us use the internet without thinking too hard about the digital footprint we leave behind, or how our information could be stolen and used against us.

Cyber security experts assess risks, recover lost data, secure information from hackers, and guard the web against attackers. As a cyber security expert, you’ll work behind the scenes to strengthen systems and develop solutions to secure, control and protect sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

You’ll protect people’s online lives (and livelihoods)

“We actually are living online,” said expert Romeo Farinacci, in his TED talk on the importance of cyber security. “If the bad people get hold of this information, they can actually pervert what we are doing and who we are, and actually change our image. Change what we are trying to represent. Modify the truth.”

You could be doing anything from protecting democratic data exchanged during elections and securing sensitive client medical records, to combating cyber terrorism and cyber espionage. You’ll be integral in stopping fraud, guarding against malicious attacks, and maintaining the integrity of important networks.

Studying cyber security is part computer science, part psychology

In order to stay one step ahead of a hacker, you’ll need to think like a hacker — and beat them at their own game! The best cyber security experts outsmart malicious hackers by being the ‘white hats’ (good guys) of the hacking world. They strategically predict an attacker’s next move and move fast to patch up vulnerabilities.

Cyber security is a booming industry

“The industry is booming globally right now,” says Professor Andrew Woodward, Science Executive Dean of the Edith Cowan School of Science. “It has been for the past decade and will continue to boom into the next decade. Unlike industries such as mining and construction which can boom and bust, we’re only connecting more devices to the internet and that means more demand for cyber security professionals.”

The rise of the Internet of Things is fundamentally changing the ways in which people and societies network, live and work. A role in cyber security places you at forefront of this huge shift.

Cyber security jobs are in high demand all over the world

International police organisation, Interpol, has just six academic members in its Global Cybercrime Expert Group. Two of those elite members work at Edith Cowan University in Australia.

It’s estimated that by 2020, there will be a global shortfall of over 1.5 million cyber security professionals. Almost 20% of positions in Australia will go unfilled because of a lack of trained professionals. The need for quality cyber security experts worldwide is clear.

Jobs in cyber security pay highly

There are big gains to be made for those working in cyber security. In 2017, cyber security was regarded as one of the ten best paying jobs in Australian tech. Edith Cowan University Professor Andrew Woodward says many of his students rise to well-paid positions quickly, even before graduation.

“Cyber security skills are in such high demand, we see our best students being offered six-figure salaries when they’re only in their second year of a degree,” he says.

EDUCATION PATHWAYS

Currently, Edith Cowan University is home to Australia’s best cyber security research and education team, which is one of the top ten in the world. Alternate pathways to the University are available through Edith Cowan College, where you’ll be introduced to Computer Science, Computer Security, Software Engineering and other emerging areas within science and IT. The Edith Cowan College degree in IT also has the Australian Computer Society’s highest level of accreditation, so it’s a great place to build solid foundations in IT before your transition to university.

To qualify to specialise in the field of cyber security, you may need to complete a qualification in a similar field. Relevant career pathways may include:

MEET SCOTT ANDERSON & MAARTEN VAN HORENBEEK

Scott Anderson is studying a Bachelor of Science with a major in cyber security at Edith Cowan University.

“All the skills I’ve learned here are all industry standard skills,” Anderson says. “The lecturers have given insight on how things work, or things they’ve come across. So you know what’s out there, what to expect.”

For Anderson, teamwork is at the heart of the university experience. “A lot of the units focus on preparing you for going into group projects, which a lot of the IT industry is,” he says.

Maarten Van Horenbeek, from Belgium, studied a Master degree in Information Security and Intelligence at Edith Cowan University in 2006. It was here that he, too, made powerful connections. As part of his coursework at Edith Cowan University, Van Horenbeek learned about a new form of cyber attack called a ‘persistent attack’. He then reported several vulnerabilities to Microsoft.

“I ended up being invited to go and interview with them for a position and ended up working with Microsoft for five years,” Van Horenbeek says. “Those were probably the most exciting days of my life so far… I was really passionate about the work that I was doing.”

Since then, Van Horenbeek has gone on to work with other internet giants Google and Amazon.

“[My Edith Cowan University lecturers] Bill and Craig taught me to think beyond your direct individual role, and to think about the internet as a bigger place,” he says. “How do we protect that bigger place? How do we make it a safe place for our children and family members that want to use it and be proud of this internet that connects everyone?

“I think it was here that I started thinking bigger.”

WANT TO STUDY FOR A FUTURE IN CYBER SECURITY?

Edith Cowan University in Western Australia offer degrees that will get you there. With highly esteemed cyber security research and education teams, a diverse range of reputable courses, and state-of-the-art facilities, Edith Cowan University is the premier institution in Australia to start your path towards becoming a cyber security expert. For more information, head to the Edith Cowan University website.