Australia is a ‘hacker’s paradise’ as universities hand out ‘junk’ cybersecurity degrees: Optus

Australia is a ‘hacker’s paradise’ because universities hand out ‘junk’ cybersecurity degrees – leaving businesses vulnerable, experts say

  • Experts call on the Australian government to regulate cybersecurity qualifications
  • Concerns that ‘unwanted’ cybersecurity degrees could leave companies vulnerable to hackers
  • Some universities have created degrees from scratch, leaving graduates with no experience
  • Experts say lessons need to be standardized to improve academic outcomes
  • Warning comes after major Optus hack saw personal details of millions stolen

Pictured: Damien Manuel, President of the Australian Information Security Association

The Australian government must step in to regulate cybersecurity qualifications, fearing unwanted degrees could leave businesses vulnerable to attack, according to a leading think tank.

Some universities have created specialized degrees in cybersecurity from scratch. Others have simply added a cybersecurity unit to an existing course and labeled it as a separate degree.

Australian Information Security Association president Damien Manuel said companies were struggling to fill cybersecurity vacancies because many graduates lacked knowledge or experience.

“To some degree, students might be wasting their time taking a tertiary course that doesn’t lead to a position,” Manuel told AAP.

“There really needs to be some standardization or transparency to help improve the quality of these courses and education outcomes.”

Mr Manuel said Australia was now at risk of Optus-style data breaches every few months (pictured, an Optus store in Sydney)

Mr Manuel said Australia was now at risk of Optus-style data breaches every few months (pictured, an Optus store in Sydney)

Mr Manuel made the comments as more than 4,000 industry leaders gathered for Australia’s 2022 Cyber ​​Conference in Melbourne.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and 2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott addressed the crowd on Tuesday, where the recent Optus hack was frequently mentioned.

Manuel said labor shortages are driving up wages for good cybersecurity workers.

He said they were more likely to be hired by large institutions like banks rather than small and medium-sized businesses, which may be part of their supply chains.

“You have thousands of all these vendors, who then potentially don’t have perfect security in place because they can’t afford to hire someone.

The Albanian government is currently rethinking the Cybersecurity Strategy 2020 and seeking industry feedback on its direction (stock image)

The Albanian government is currently rethinking the Cybersecurity Strategy 2020 and seeking industry feedback on its direction (stock image)

“It creates a weakness where the big banks can become vulnerable or become a bigger supplier, like an Optus or a Telstra,” he said.

Mr Manuel said Australia was now at risk of Optus-like data breaches every few months.

“While last month it was Optus, Telstra, you know, next month it could be any retailer,” he said.

“I would say you’re more likely to see it happening every couple of months rather than longer term.”

The Albanian government is currently rethinking the Cybersecurity Strategy 2020 and seeking industry feedback on its direction.

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