UNSW summit to address nation’s shortfall in cybersecurity skills

Penny Jones

Australia’s foremost cybersecurity leaders will gather on Friday to decide how the nation can produce more people with the skills to protect it from attack.

Leaders in cybersecurity education, industry and government will gather at UNSW Sydney this week to discuss how to solve the nation’s shortfall of cybersecurity professionals.

The Australian Cybersecurity Education Summit is the brainchild of Professor Richard Buckland, who is the Director of the Security Engineering Capability Institute (SECedu), an Australian-first partnership between UNSW and the Commonwealth Bank that aims to train Australia’s next generation of cybersecurity professionals. Professor Buckland says that the biggest cyber problem Australia faces by far is the lack of cybersecurity experts with the skills and knowledge to counter cyberattacks. He said: “All problems in cyberspace are solvable. The problem is that we don’t have enough hands.

Professor Richard Buckland

“I’d go so far to say that cybersecurity, if left unchecked, is an existential threat to our modern world. This is because cybercrime erodes trust, and most of the systems and institutes we rely on operate on a foundation of trust.

“If it becomes impossible to trust your government, or even your own smartphone, house or car, society will be in trouble,” Professor Buckland said.

Addressing this skills gap is central to the objectives of the summit, to be held at UNSW this Friday, 20 September 2019. As Australia’s first cybersecurity summit focused exclusively on education, it’s bringing together the nation’s leading cybersecurity experts to counter the major skills shortage.

“We need to facilitate and nurture practical partnerships and improve how we teach and grow talented cyber experts to position Australia as a global cybersecurity leader into the future,” Professor Buckland said.

If it becomes impossible to trust your government, or even your own smart phone, house or car, society will be in trouble.

Professor Richard Buckland

The summit is a full day of exploration and engagement with Australia’s leading cyber educators, major industry and government employers of cybersecurity professionals, students and graduates. Plus, there’ll be puzzles and prizes.”

Brendan Hopper, General Manager of CommBank’s Cyber Security Centre, is a founding member of SECedu and is a keynote speaker and panellist at the event. He said the summit was about building the cyber education bandwidth needed in Australia and working out how best to get the topic on the national agenda.

“It is imperative that people are safe whenever they use or interact with technology. Our lives are increasingly moving online, and cybersecurity education is a key building block in the safe use of technology,” he said.

Australian can lead in cybersecurity

“Australia has the opportunity to make use of its highly trusted position internationally and strong foundation in STEM and computer science education to grow the next generation of talented cybersecurity professionals.  We need graduates who are trained and capable to challenge the status quo and make progress on the sizeable challenges we face in the cybersecurity industry.”

Mr Hopper said his vision as for Australia to be a net exporter of cyber talent and innovation.

“In my mind the gap should be addressed by creating 'cybersecurity scientists' – people who will ask the big questions, challenge existing assumptions, and sustainably define and solve big cyber issues,” he said.

“The summit is a great opportunity for some of the greatest minds in cybersecurity to come together and help address what is a growing problem: the cyber skills shortage in Australia and around the world. I hope that the summit will help pave the way for a vibrant and diverse cybersecurity ecosystem in Australia.”

Other prominent experts to attend the summit include Australian Cyber Security Centre lead Rachael Noble; Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk; and many more teachers, professionals and practitioners, who will come together for a series of panel discussions, Q&As and opportunities to network.

Professor Buckland said he planned the summit to be inspirational and aspirational and it would appeal to anyone involved in hiring, making decisions about or educating cybersecurity professionals. This included policymakers, decision-makers, government, educators and education leaders. He says it was also for cybersecurity students, because their voice was important too.

“Most of all it will be a fun and interesting meeting of passionate people who are on a mission to solve this problem,” he said.

For more information and tickets please visit: sec.edu.au/summit