How a cyber security career can secure your future

Irene Giantsos saw her cyber security career take off before she'd even graduated.

After completing a work-integrated learning (WIL) placement she was hired by NAB's Security Awareness team as a Junior Security Analyst. Thanks to Deakin's flexibility she was able to move from being a full-time on-campus student to a full-time online student. This allowed her to continue with her Bachelor of Cyber Security while working at NAB.

Working while studying gave Irene a clear cyber security career path. 'I've explored and discovered what my passions and interests are and how I work best.' Her studies provided her with the theory and some practical knowledge, while her work in the industry gives her the 'key learnings'.

How hard is it to establish a cyber security career?

According to the Government's own Cyber Security Strategy, 'Australia is suffering from a cyber security skills shortage.' This shortage provides a unique opportunity for cyber security students as, according to Australian employment projections, demand for their skills and services will grow by at least 38.9% in the five years to 2026. The 2020 LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report lists Cyber Security Specialist as second in the top 15 emerging jobs.

What does a cyber security specialist do?

Irene describes an average day at the office as, 'analysing phishing/malicious emails and calls, assisting in the takedown of phishing sites and ensuring employees and customers are aware of the latest security threats.'

'I love that I always have to be one step ahead, so I'm always learning new things about my industry.' But, she says, that is also the challenge.

Irene is also involved in security-related programs and events, such as the development of the Australian Computing Academy's Schools Cyber Security Challenges. An experience, she says, that has been incredibly rewarding. 'I never expected to be involved in such important community programs.'

What other jobs use cyber security skills?

Cyber security students and graduates go on to work as security analysts, project managers, security system managers, cryptographers, business analysts, consultants, security system developers or programmers, information security auditors, law enforcement personnel and IT security engineers.

'My team is really diverse in what they do,' says Irene. '(They) touch on many different areas of cyber security and provide security advice to the whole business as well as our customers.'

What industries need cyber security?

'Cyber security is not just limited to IT,' Irene says. 'It's health, science, automotive, agriculture and much more.' Other areas include government, military, banking, telecommunications and retail. Basically, wherever there’s digital information, there's a need for specialists to combat cyber-crime and cyber terrorism. And let's face it, where isn't there digital information these days?

'The industry is growing every day,' says Irene. 'The opportunities are endless.'

Is a career in cyber security for me?

Students who want a cyber security career should be curious and inquisitive and get a kick out of problem solving. Irene likes that part of it. 'I enjoy fixing things and wondering why things are the way they are,' she says. 'Those investigative type tasks.'

According to the 2021–2022 Annual Cyber Threat Report by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), 'the ACSC received over 76,000 cybercrime reports, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year.' As Irene says, working in cyber security is about staying one step ahead – it's a constant race, you've got to be always learning, researching to keep up with the trends, understanding the latest technology.

It's a dynamic industry, that's for sure. And for Irene one of the perks is 'knowing that the work I do is directly helping others.'

Why study cyber security at Deakin?

Deakin's Bachelor of Cyber Security and Master of Cyber Security are practical, hands-on degrees supported by strong technology. Classes use specialised software to enable practice of real world cyber-attack and response scenarios.

You'll cover areas such as computer crime and digital forensics, evaluating software for security vulnerabilities, designing secure databases, securing operating systems, assessing and reinforcing the security of websites, integrating security requirements into new developments, designing secure network architectures, performing risk assessments and responding to cyber security incidents.

Irene recommends Deakin for its focus on industry experience and how it prepares students for a cyber security career. 'The WIL team has been very supportive every step of the way.'

She also champions the university's flexibility. 'I studied on campus for the first two years of my degree and, now that I am working, (I'm) studying on the Cloud (online).' And with all her free time (!) she's now developing a 'Study Buddy' app that will link online students with other students for better connectivity.

So what are you waiting for?

According to Irene, cyber security is 'truly a rewarding career'. And don't worry if you're not 'technical enough,' she says. 'You will pick up these skills along the way.'

If you're a curious problem-solver who's looking for a dynamic job in a thriving industry, then her advice is to 'just go for it.' And why not? Your cyber security career is waiting.

Inspired to secure your digital future? Check out Deakin's Bachelor of Cyber Security or Master of Cyber Security.