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How security knowledge and skills enhance IT careers

The internet has become an essential ingredient to everyday life, with eight in 10 Australians exhibiting daily online activity. This public interconnectedness often involves sharing our personal data – whether through private e-mails with a colleague or completing your latest purchase on Amazon.

Though we revel in these conveniences, exposing our private information leaves it vulnerable to prying, criminal hands. Cybercrime statistics have been on an annual rise, revealing an 18% jump among Australian businesses from 2017-2018 alone.

Such activities cost the nation over a $1 billion each year, so it’s no surprise that security expertise has become an increasingly desired asset across professions. In fact, AustCyber deems this form of “cyber literacy” as a must-have skill – not only for those in the IT industry, but for anyone working in today’s digital age.

The alarmingly high rate of international and local cybercrime projects the need for about 17,600 Australian cybersecurity workers by 2026.

Below, we explore the further benefits of cybersecurity knowledge – both on your IT career options, and your overall tech expertise.

Broaden your career opportunities

As mentioned, IT workers will find abundant opportunity to expand into the field of cybersecurity. The sector currently faces a large skills gap, projecting a shortage of over 1 million employees in the field over the next five years.

Australia’s education system has made recent action towards this, with plenty of education providers offering cybersecurity programs and courses. The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT), for example, offers training in industry-certified cybersecurity skills through an online three-month course.

Not only does this expanded skillset broaden your specialisation options, you’ll also bolster opportunities for your employer (which, in turn, can benefit your career). Having security credentials can qualify you for contract positions with the government or other organisations, boosting your company’s growth and profits through new business deals and relationships.

Additionally, there’s no better time than now to earn in the field of cybersecurity. Australia has recently ranked as the highest-paying country for IT security professionals – whether you’re an entry-level worker or senior executive. In fact, aspiring beginners in the field can earn up to $127,000 annually; far higher than other entry-level experts in the US, UK, Singapore, and Germany.

For those who simply wish to enhance their IT skillset (rather than pursuing an specialised career), an education in cybersecurity can easily add valuable tech skills to your repertoire. Among these include a thorough knowledge of programming languages such as Java, C++, and PHP.

According to Deloitte reports, companies are generally lacking in “triple threat” employees – those who own an ideal combination of IT, business, and strategic capabilities. Cybersecurity knowledge builds on your technical skills and sharpens your competitive edge, putting you in a better position to negotiate salary and career benefits.

Navigate an increasingly risky landscape

The technological landscape is constantly evolving – and so are the risks of cybersecurity. 2019 statistics reveal an 80% increase in data theft or loss among Australian businesses, with ransomware, phishing, and malware as the leading three cybercrimes across the country.

Educating yourself in cybersecurity can thus keep you ten steps ahead of hackers and common cybercrime schemes, keeping both your personal and company data safe. Such knowledge has become increasingly attractive among employers, equipping their business with the right expertise in responding to or mitigating such threats.

Skills in cybersecurity allows you to think like a “black hat”, keeping you receptive to any security weaknesses or intrusion points in your company’s system. These abilities also enable safety protocols such as “penetration testing” – a simulated hacking attack that allows you to hunt down vulnerabilities in your business’ security infrastructure.

Cybersecurity expertise can also help you identify and track risks as you work through projects, offering you the foresight to act before further damage takes place. You’ll thus have a sharper attention to detail, trimming your chances of falling victim to both common and underhanded criminal tactics.

According to a report by Intel Security, IT skills in risk mitigation are set to become an in-demand, outsourced skill by most companies in the years to come – further leading to the likelihood of greater earning potential.

Have the benefit of flexible work

The telecommuting lifestyle is on the rise in Australia, with over two-thirds of the population ditching their daily commute to work in the comfort of their own home. In an era of social media and cloud computing technologies, such opportunities were inevitable, reportedly leading to better work-life balance, improved morale, and higher productivity on top of convenience.

IT industries, specifically, have also adopted this employment style. A 2017 Gallup poll of 15,000 participants revealed that 57% of employees have spent at least some time working remotely. In fact, flexible work opportunities were cited as a top reason for staying with current employers, according to a 2018 survey by Experis on IT security professionals.

Additionally, a quick search on Indeed currently draws over 70 job openings for a “remote” cybersecurity position.

Pursuing knowledge in this field thus not only broadens your IT career options, but your opportunities for flexible work benefits. Plenty of cybersecurity jobs take advantage of technologies that allow for teleworking, with some offering completely remote roles. This means you can work wherever you choose to live, or while travelling if it suits – adopting a true digitally nomadic lifestyle.

Additionally, most – if not all – businesses require cybersecurity professionals to keep their digital information protected. The high number of job vacancies in the field allow you to find work in most, if not all regions of Australia; in fact, Job Outlook shows that opportunities are available in every state.

Increase compliance and benefit your overall business

Finally, expertise in cybersecurity helps you improve on your IT compliance, benefiting the infrastructure, operations, and reputation of your business.

By educating yourself in best security practices – these including the “basics” such as complex, regularly changed passwords; strong firewalls, and installing the latest software updates – you effectively save your business millions of dollars in damage costs and profit losses. Research shows that a single data breach can cost an Australian business an average of nearly $3 million, or $160 per data unit.

Of course, this also brings positive impact to the public reputation of your company. Gemalto’s Customer Loyalty 2018 Report revealed that Australian consumers were more likely to ditch a retail, healthcare, or financial company should the business experience a breach. 70% admitted to looking elsewhere if any of their financial data were compromised, with 55% having the same sentiments towards stolen or compromised passwords.

Additionally, the demographic is more vigilant than ever, with two-thirds of consumers worried of having their sensitive information breached at some point.

Being well-versed in your IT security can thus help your business evade common risks of cyber-attacks, retaining your overall customer trust and that of industry partners. You’ll be more confident in managing sensitive data, implementing the adequate safeguards to keep information protected. At the same time, you’ll also be well-equipped to efficiently perform damage control in the event of an actual data breach.

Don’t be another negative statistic

Avoid falling prey to common cybercrime schemes by investing in the proper training.

As mentioned, AIICT offers a Certified Cybersecurity Professional course that can help you develop fundamental skills in online security, system networking, and communication in an IT environment. Program completion will have you equipped with nationally-accredited, job-ready skills to incorporate into your current IT role, or to pursue specialised pathways such as a Cybersecurity Analyst.

Best of all, the course is delivered 100% online, allowing you to study according to personal needs and schedule.

Stay safe and informed of digital threats – and get in touch with us today.