Students urged to consider careers in cyber security

Cyber crime has reached such levels that secondary students are being urged to consider options for entering industries involved in cyber security.

Globally, unfilled cyber security jobs are predicted to reach 1.5 million by 2019, and international experts say the entire cyber security sector unemployment rate is zero percent.

The government’s cyber security strategy annual action plan report released last week shows the government-appointed cyber security task force aims to introduce a secondary school programme to help position students for higher level study towards cyber security qualifications.

Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato (CROW) associate professor Ryan Ko is a member of the New Zealand cyber security task force, and says secondary school students need to be informed of the massive cyber security career potential for their personal benefit and that of the New Zealand economy.

“We need to train more Kiwis in cyber security to align with the fast growth and deployment of new technologies. This is important to protect New Zealand because tech is our fastest growing industry and a lapse in cyber capability would be detrimental to the economy.

“Only 23 percent of board of directors actively participate in security policy and $34 billion could be added to the New Zealand economy if businesses made more effective use of the internet.

“A range of job roles are appearing within popular career sectors like government, law, research, teaching and insurance where there is a demand for employees who have skills and knowledge in cyber security.

“Top executive positions are also being established that have chief risk officers reporting directly to the chief executive and if this trend continues, it opens up exciting career pathway opportunities for junior cyber security professionals,” says Mr Ko.

CROW runs the annual New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge for secondary school students who want to learn more about cyber security, show off their skills and chat to industry experts about what it takes to develop a career in cyber security.

“Rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) means devices are being deployed into consumer environments – homes and offices – with very poor or non-existent security features. These devices can easily be compromised and used in malicious activities.

“This year we have introduced a new policy-based round to the challenge because it is important that students have a broader viewpoint of security. Students will need to assess the risks associated with emerging technologies like drones and look at how to apply and enforce policies which will help to protect organisational assets.”

The challenge, which includes a career fair, is attractive for small to medium businesses as it is a chance for them to compete against and scope out talented future employees from within New Zealand’s secondary school and tertiary sectors.

Around 500 participants from all over New Zealand are expected to compete from mid-June with the top 150 gathering at the University of Waikato campus in July to receive hands-on training and compete in teams to become the 2017 New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge Champions.

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