Australia’s Cyber Emergency: Lack of a High-tech Workforce

Australia is facing a looming cyber emergency, and we don’t have the high-tech workforce to counter it

In brief…

+  Australia’s social scientists and the intelligence agencies have a new joint role in protecting the country, but may need a more tech-savvy workforce to get there.

Australia’s current geopolitical situation is obviously not as dire. But we are facing the same institutional problem. The country has not been able to develop an intelligence workforce that can keep up with the speed of advancing technologies today and their intensifying threat to our national security.

Warner specifically mentioned recent innovations in nanotechnology, quantum computing, synthetic biology and facial recognition technology as among the most critical for our intelligence agencies to better understand.  As it stands, there are gaping holes in our capability to grasp both the threats posed by these new technologies, as well as the opportunities for our intelligence agents to use them in their missions.

+  On the threat side, one area where Australia and most other countries are weak is the need to have advanced, 24-hour monitoring and immediate remediation of cyber-intrusions for nationally connected systems.

+  This can only be done through the development of artificial intelligence applications unique to the country, its cyber-infrastructure, and the threat profile of potential adversaries. An algorithm for Australia’s system, for instance, will not work for the United States.

+  But how many Australians are qualified in this area? This shortfall in the number of candidates with high-tech qualifications to help remake our intelligence workforce is probably the main reason why leaders like Warner are going public with their concerns.

+  In spite of some small successes, the universities are not delivering. We need to know why. Are traditional universities even the appropriate venue for advanced cyber-social research and education?

+  We certainly need a greater sense of urgency. In May, the US declared a national “cyber emergency”, the third time it’s done so in the past four years. At the same time, it released a new cyber workforce strategy as a primary plank of its emergency response plan.

+  Australia should adopt this urgency to create a new workforce capable of countering the high-tech threats of the future.

Source:  The Conversation.  Greg Austin,  Australia is facing a looming cyber emergency, and we don’t have the high-tech workforce to counter it…

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