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Next generation key to combat cyber threat

Universally adding core cyber skills across industry sectors to bolster Australia’s defences and prosperity is on the wishlist for an upcoming national skills summit.

Global software company Elastic, which serves half the Fortune 500, says Andy Penn’s call for greater government investment in education is the bottom line for strengthening Australia’s cyber protections.

The outgoing Telstra CEO and top federal government industry cyber advisor recently warned a National Press Club audience that the online lives of Australians are increasingly vulnerable and their skills lacking.

Elastic’s regional vice-president Anna Mascarello says the technology sector can do more at the grassroots level to feed the talent pool too.

“We’re in conversation with Australian universities to understand how we can help support the curriculum and nurture the next generation of critical thinkers,” she told AAP.

The Productivity Commission says industry certifications and short courses could help build knowledge at a time when a skills shortage is holding Australia back on adopting digital technologies and cyber safeguards.

From energy grids to banking systems, strengthening the security posture of Australia’s digital economy will also require organisations to invest in protecting data and systems and better educate workers.

Cyber criminals often demand ransoms or steal funds from their targets.

Malicious emails and dodgy text messages are their preferred way of infecting devices and locking or stealing data, including private information to fake credentials and raid bank accounts.

Ms Mascarello says government and industry working together to develop “sovereign and best-of-breed technical capability” will be critical for Australia’s wealth and security.

Software company Ivanti agrees Mr Penn’s warning highlights the urgent need to develop stronger government-industry partnerships.

More people working from home post-pandemic has expanded the attack surface, posing new security challenges, executive Matthew Lowe told AAP.

Organisations are lagging on investing in technology that can identify and combat vulnerabilities in real time, he says.

Yet artificial intelligence-based applications could help reduce cyber risk in advance, with less manual effort.

Ms Mascarello says leaders should also look to a more inclusive talent pool to fill vacancies.

“It’s not enough to just fill roles,” she said.

“The current lack of diversity in many security teams poses risks because company systems aren’t homogeneous and neither are potential assailants.”

The two-day Jobs and Skills Summit begins on Thursday.

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