Microsoft Australia prepares cyber-awareness micro-credential

Microsoft Australia prepares cyber-awareness micro-credential

To be delivered as a benchmark requirement for those who want to work in the digital space

Microsoft Australia managing director, Steven Worrall

Microsoft Australia managing director, Steven Worrall

Microsoft Australia has partnered with the University of Adelaide and the Defence Teaming Centre to pilot and launch a cyber-awareness micro-credential, with the support of the local defence industry.

The micro-credential will be delivered as a benchmark requirement for those who want to work in the digital space and it is designed to increase cyber security literacy across the wider defence industry workforce.

The Defence Teaming Centre is the South Australian branch of the Australian Industry and Defence Network, an industry association for small to medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) wishing to do business in the defence and security sectors.

This is part of Microsoft Australia's investment in the cyber security space with the vendor also investing efforts to address the local cyber security skill shortage.

Businesses have been hiring people with different backgrounds in order to fill cyber security roles within organisations including mathematicians and psychologists.

Microsoft Australia managing director, Steven Worrall, said that businesses have seen success by hiring psychology students for their skills at "tapping into the way people think" and mathematics students for their "ability to solve problems".

"The FBI often hires graduates with accounting backgrounds to fill cyber security roles, attracted by their attention to detail," Worrall wrote in a LinkedIn post.

In a recent roundtable promoted by Microsoft, Ann Johnson, the vendor's vice president, strategic, enterprise and cyber security, said that Microsoft runs a military transition program in the US that includes a 12-week cybersecurity boot camp.

According to Johnson, these people already have investigative skills so it’s a natural transition to teach them cyber forensics.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has implemented a similar approach locally led by Narelle Devine, CISO at the DHS, who is a former Australian Navy Commander with 20 years’ military experience.

"People with diverse backgrounds bring different skills and approaches to the table. This is valuable in cybersecurity," Worrall said.

According to him, recruiters have long advised hiring people for cultural fit and then training them to develop the skills needed.

"Many leading Australian CISOs are following this advice, focusing on in-house training programs where they can mould entry-level staff into cybersecurity experts.

"While technical knowledge is useful, other skills considered critical for security work are often missing from the IT graduate pool. These include effective communications, knowledge of human behaviour and strategic thinking," added Worrall.

Skills gap in cyber security is top of mind in Australia and have seen government and industry investing on it. In December 2017, TAFE NSW announced it would start offering the Certificate IV and Advanced Diploma courses in 2018. The courses were developed by Box Hill Institute of TAFE in Victoria backed by the Labor Government $4.7 million investment from the $50 million TAFE Back to Work Fund.

Deakin University has also announced its Bachelor of Cyber Security which was developed in partnership with Dimension Data.

With 100 students expected to graduate in 2019, up to 50 of these students will be given the opportunity to work at Dimension Data, Deakin, NAB or ANZ.

"Although the education sector scaling a curriculum around cybersecurity will help, industry and government must continue schooling the next generation of cybersecurity professionals," Worrall said. 

"At the same time, there’s a pressing need for organisations to extend cybersecurity education throughout the wider staff, ensuring this isn’t left to the IT department. Cybersecurity won’t be effective if it’s siloed."

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Tags skills shortageMicrosoftcyber securityMicrosoft Australia

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