Cyber security: call for mandatory APS training

As education providers rush to roll out new cyber security courses for government professionals, an expert has called for mandatory training across the public sector.

A recurring theme at technology conference CeBIT last week was the growing skill shortage in cyber security that’s making all sectors, and government in particular, vulnerable to cyber threats.

As the event was underway in Sydney, new data was released detailing a rise in cyber attacks in the public sector, as Government News reported on Friday.

According to Dr Priyadarsi Nanda, senior lecturer in the school of electrical and data engineering at the University of Technology Sydney, a critical cyber security skills shortage could imperil the public sector’s network.

He’s calling on the Federal Government to introduce mandatory cyber security training for all APS staff.

“The government should push public sector employees to take some kind of training in universities and other training facilities in cyber security,” Dr Nanda told Government News.

“We need a good understanding of cyber security among the workforce.”

Dr Nanda said that the Commonwealth needs to allocate more funding to ensure the APS receives third party training in cyber security.

His comments come after the recent budget boost towards the digitisation of government and a pledge by the Minister for Cyber Security at CeBIT to decrease the number of cyber incidents within government to zero.

Training at schools, higher education

To minimise the vulnerability of the public sector to attacks Dr Nanda argues the government needs to introduce mandatory cyber security training in schools and higher education, and promote interdisciplinary research in cyber security as well as small research projects in universities.

He noted that the public sector is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks, which makes coordination with educational institutions crucial in improving knowledge of cyber security and addressing the prevalence of incidents.

Recent data from the Australian Centre for Cyber Security estimates that Australia would need 500 graduates every year to meet existing demand for cyber security skills.

A recent global survey from Capgemini found that 68 per cent of the organisations were in need of cyber security skills and 43 per cent claimed such skills were already present in the company.

Dr Nanda said that while the opening of the country’s first Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence were a step forward, universities and education institutions need to be active in improving cyber security knowledge among students and APS employees.

Case study: Simulated cyber security training

As the cyber security skills gap in the APS and government workforce comes into sharper focus, specialist cyber security training courses are on the rise.

One such program, run by Elbit Systems, is offering practical training by simulating real-life cyber security incidents in simulated company networks in order to equip IT experts to respond to cyber attacks.

Pip Wyrdeman, director of cyber services and systems at Elbit Systems, says simulated training helps overcome a critical national shortage of cyber security expertise.

“It means people come out the other end with the muscle memory to know what to do when something happens,” she told Government News.

Earlier this year, TAFEs across Australia announced they would, for the first time, offer new courses in cyber security and take enrolments this year.

Microsoft last month announced plans to upskill the public sector on cyber security by offering 5,000 APS workers subsidised cloud computing courses over the next two years.

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