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How cybersecurity training is fixing Australia’s national defence problem

SOURCE: Taskin Ashiq/Unsplash
Malicious threats have skyrocketed in Australia with the cybersecurity industry on track to triple in size to AU$6 billion.

Global networking and security giant Cisco has partnered with Victoria University’s Polytechnic to open a multi-million dollar cybersecurity training centre with a heavy focus on vocational training for the next generation of specialists.

The jointly funded centre, located in Melbourne’s western suburbs, will tackle the gap in Australia’s cybersecurity workforce which is posing a growing problem to national security.

According to Australia’s Financial Review (AFR), the country needs to train 18,000 more people by 2026 to fight an onslaught of cybersecurity wars.

Given the proliferation of online devices in Australia, malicious threats have skyrocketed with the cybersecurity industry on track to triple in size to AU$6 billion (US$4 billion).

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A report from AFR, released in November, revealed that China’s top security agency is behind a recent surge in cyberattacks, dubbed “Operation Cloud Hopper.”

A senior Australian government source described China’s activity as “a constant, significant effort to steal our intellectual property.”

Given the dire nature of the situation, Cisco and VU have teamed up in an effort to solve the problem.

The partnership between industry and education will offer students up-to-date training and skills development that is relevant to this ever-evolving industry. The course curriculum has been co-designed by cybersecurity professionals – including Cisco’s Networking Academy – to deliver hands-on and practical insights that are affecting the industry today.

“We are enormously proud to partner with Cisco to help address a workforce shortage in an industry with a vast future demand for trained professionals,” said Deputy-Vice Chancellor of Vocational Education and Pathways at Victoria University, Grant Dreher.

“The rapid evolution of cyber-crimes around the world shows that cybersecurity is not just an Australian problem, it’s a global problem for companies to tackle, using a high-quality workforce with the right skills and training.”

The centre boasts a Cyber Security Operations Centre (SOC) with a simulated working environment containing red “attack” and blue “defend” rooms, giving the students a real-time experience as data hackers or cyber protectors and enabling them to acquire genuine workplace skills. The space also offers two immersive computer labs and a video-conferencing classroom, connecting students and industry virtually.

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“We are excited by the prospects of the Cybersecurity Training Centre to support the skills of the emerging workforce, help create jobs, and enhance Australia’s global economic competitiveness,” said Cisco Australia and New Zealand’s Vice President, Ken Boal.

“Partnering with academia to accelerate growth in the cybersecurity industry will create more opportunities for Australia to grow and prosper in the digital era. The Centre offers a great opportunity for the next wave of cybersecurity experts, and working with academia we’re providing a very real pathway for anyone to be part of that.”

This joint venture is part of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration programme, which was announced back in February 2019 and promised AU$61 million over the next three years to drive digital transformation in Australia through education, healthcare, infrastructure and other government sectors.