AustCyber turning away Cyber Week delegates as cybersecurity interest passes “tipping point”

Speed-networking and other events building momentum, raising cybersecurity industry profile

Interest in cybersecurity carers has surged so quickly that The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (AustCyber) had to turn students away from the speed-networking event it threw with industry supporters during this week’s Cyber Week festivities.

Some 28 potential employers signed up for the Melbourne speed-networking event during this, the second annual Cyber Week. But with nearly 300 TAFE and university students signed up, AustCyber CEO Michelle Price told CSO Australia, the organisation was forced to cap enrolments to ensure that all attendees had enough valuable face time.

The strong turnout for the speed-networking event – more than twice the turnout of an April AustCyber event that also drew strong support – reflects the growing profile of the group’s industry-development efforts.

Cyber Week, which was launched on Monday by Minister for Cyber Security Angus Taylor, includes dozens of events across the week including the SINET61 government and business liaison, a pitchfest for five Australian cybersecurity startups, a TAFEcyber Strategy Group to drive collaboration between vocational training institutes and industry, and more.

The event – which borrows from a structure already adopted by cybersecurity communities in the UK, US, Singapore, and Israel – is a sign that cybersecurity was making strong progress in developing and defining itself as an industry.

“What’s really changed between last year and this year is that we’re seeing a comparatively huge number of Cyber Week activities that have not been generated by us,” Price said.

Related events this week included a Startup Victoria, Tesserent and LaunchVic-sponsored pitch night; a product launch from Red Piranha; Thursday’s launch of the CyRise 2019 roadshow and a Training Cyber Security Operations Centre at Box Hill Institute; industry meetings focused on developing public-private partnerships around cybersecurity opportunities; and more.

“We curate the events so that it really brings in all different parts of the economy to demonstrate that cyber is something that is a true horizontal – but also provides the impetus to be able to have sophisticated and more mature conversations about the key issues that are facing the sector, as well as the economy.”

Surging demand since the first event had forced AustCyber and its partners to a “tipping point”, Price said, where they had begun exploring ways of scaling the events to decentralise demand.

The importance of events like Cyber Week was reinforced as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) released updated figures on the performance of the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, which found the rate of reported data breaches had nearly doubled between the first full month of reporting and the last month of fiscal 2018.

Healthcare organisations fared particularly badly in those figures, but financial services and other industries were also well represented – reinforcing a core message that AustCyber continues to press home as it seeks to stimulate interest in cybersecurity careers, and cybersecurity employment.

“There is a cybersecurity component of every job in the economy right now,” Price said. “It’s just that we are still working through that awareness and understanding of why that is a requirement.”

With a third of Australian companies having no in-house security capabilities and hiccups with the government’s My Health Record (MHR) highlighting the broad concern over corporate insecurity, change can’t come soon enough.

“If we don’t address cybersecurity in a more forward-leaning and whole-of-nation way, it will undermine the future prosperity of the country,” Price said. “The OAIC figures highlight the fact that this is an issue of when, not if, breaches and compromises occur – and that they really do occur in Australia, and not just overseas.”

“There is opportunity in that, and that’s the message we are wanting to get across with cybersecurity overall. Australians need to be able to see what ‘good’ looks like.”

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