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Young Australians need to know how to upskill in a digital economy

The idea of staying in the same job for 40 years is outdated for young Aussies.

The average time spent in one job across all age groups is 3 years and 4 months, so it seems that a ‘job-for-life’ may be a thing of the past, and job mobility is the new trend.

In an increasingly tech-focused world, it’s clear that those jumping between careers will need to skill up. Enter the Cisco Networking Academy.

The Cisco Networking Academy is an IT skills and career building program for learning institutions and individuals worldwide. The courses are self-paced and specially designed so students can learn at their own pace.

Over 142,000 individuals have taken Cisco Networking Academy courses since its inception in 1997 and these numbers have increased dramatically over the last two years, signalling increased focus on training and retraining of adult workers to equip them with skills and capabilities to support Australia’s very rapid transition to a digital economy.

Techly chatted to Anthony Stitt, Cisco’s General Manager of Security, in order to gain some insight into the changing digital landscape and the threat of cybersecurity.

Cisco’s has also launched three additional courses: Introduction to the Internet of Things, NDG Linux Essentials, and Entrepreneurship.

What are the most common threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities young Australians are falling victim to?

“It is a common misconception that young Australians are the tech savvy generation and immune to the risk of cybersecurity, however, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, according to Cisco research, millennials are at a greater risk of falling victim to cybercrime than the over 50s. Whether it be a weak social media password, misplaced laptop or out of date software, small factors like these can lead to major security threats for anyone with access to the Internet.

“We live in a digital age of expanded connectivity, where personal data is readily shared without consideration. While individuals are becoming more clued up on the privacy policies on social media sites, there are still risks associated with weak passwords. Choosing complex, individual passwords is the one of the easiest way to safeguard information.

“Malware refers to different forms of harmful software, such as viruses. Ransomware is the most reported type of cyber attack that has also been well documented in the media, including the recent WannaCry attacks affecting over 100 countries.”

What’s involved in the cybersecurity course? Who is it made for?

The Introduction to Cybersecurity course is a free online course that teaches students, and ICT employees, new skills: how to recognise a cyber attack, understand the dangers, increase awareness around data confidentiality and learn the best practices necessary for using the Internet and social media safely.

“The course modules are structured so that participants walk away from the online program with a clear understanding and appreciation of the danger they face every time they connect their device to the internet.

“The Internet is a staple in our everyday lives, and while it is a great resource for connecting and sharing information, it is also full of unseen threats. Staying safe on the internet needs to be a conscious concern. This is why Cisco experts developed the course specifically with the everyday web user in mind.”

How could cybersecurity be improved across Australian education (particularly secondary and tertiary levels)?

“The Internet plays a huge role in both secondary and tertiary education across Australia. ICT is ingrained in almost every element of a student’s life; using laptops and tablets instead of textbooks, student life played out on Snapchat and digital skills, such as coding, being learnt from a young age.

“By teaching students about cyber security at a young age, we are essentially empowering them to become the first line of defense against increasing attacks.

“Building on STEM initiatives is a major focus to ensure students are confident and equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in the digital age, however cultivating cyber security expertise in Australia remains a pain point.

“Edith Cowan University in Western Australia has seen over 1,000 graduates leave the university with a degree relating to cybersecurity since 2011, but it estimates there will be a shortfall of more than 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals around the world by 2020.”

What’s the most prevalent cybersecurity threat for Australians?

“Malware, and more specifically ransomware attacks, are on the rise and continue to cause devastation across Australia and the rest of the globe. They infect computers and networks within entire organisations and can grind business to a halt within minutes. While the most recent WannaCry & Petya cyber attacks may be the most prolific ransomware incidents that come to mind right now, it represents a growing threat that we are likely to hear about more often.

“Identity theft is also prominent. This could be as simple as using a stolen credit card number, setting up a false bank account, all the way to fully impersonating someone to steal property, collect tax returns, and drain bank accounts.

“Phishing attacks continue to be a problem, with criminals using this technique for fraudulently scamming people of money, installing malware on people’s computers, stealing banking or other passwords, and other nefarious activities. According to the Australian Crime Commission, “An estimated $8m to $10m is sent overseas every month by Australians as a result of dishonest online invitations.”

“The good news is that the risks of online fraud can be reduced. Every business owner should be evaluating current technology and internal IT processes before looking at what tools and software solutions can be introduced to keep the business secure. The best online defence strategies take a multi-pronged approach, including DNS layer protection, segmentation, and other advanced defences.

“While there are some very useful technical tools, you cannot forget the role of the human in either helping or hindering online security. Which is why user awareness training is key to reducing the risks online.”

About the author

Larissa is Techly’s Assistant Editor. She watches so much Youtube that she’s narrowed down her favourite categories – goats, innocent dads getting pranked, and toddlers falling over.

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