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A beginner’s guide to Cyber Security, 2022

By Academy Xi

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Are you new to the world of Cyber Security? This beginner’s guide will give you the latest information about one of Australia’s fastest growing industries and help you kickstart a lucrative career as a Cyber Security Professional.

Why is Cyber Security important?

A cyber attack can be launched from any location and normally involves a cyber criminal gaining illegal access to data, or causing damage to online devices, networks, or systems. Believe it or not, an average of 185 cybercrime reports are made in Australia every day – that’s more than 1 report every 10 minutes! 

Average cyber crimes a day in Australia infographic

Businesses of all sizes can become the victim of a cyber attack, often resulting in serious consequences for customers. A Cyber Security expert at the University of New South Wales, Canberra has estimated that cybercrime costs the Australian economy as much as $42 billion each year. 

Optus and Telstra were the subjects of well-publicised cyber attacks in 2022.  These breaches resulted in the disclosure of private customer Information, including email addresses, Medicare card details and driver’s licence and passport numbers. 

Cyber Security is the strategic application of controls, processes, software and technologies to protect networks, systems and devices from cyber attacks. 

Why are Cyber Security Professionals important?

In a world where more and more of our business and social lives are carried out online, the role of Cyber Security Professionals is growing in importance and stature.

Cyber Security Professionals are responsible for implementing security best practices and countermeasures to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

Cyber Security expert working on a computer

Common types of cyber threats

Modern cybercriminals are highly inventive in their attack methods, always striving to find new ways to infiltrate and abuse online resources. Some of the most common types of cyber threat include:

Phishing – This involves sending fraudulent emails purporting to be from reputable companies, which are used to convince people to disclose personal information such as passwords and bank details.

Malware – Short for malicious software, malware is a file, program or piece of code that’s designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system. Malware can be programmed to perform just about any illegal action that a hacker wishes. 

Ransomware – This is a particular type of malware that’s used by hackers to block access to a computer system, or threaten the publication of private data unless a sum of money is paid to the cybercriminal. 

Viruses –  This is a type of malicious program or code that’s designed to spread from one computer to another. A virus attaches itself to a legitimate program to execute its code and normally harms the system by stealing, corrupting or destroying data. 

Trojans – A Trojan is a file or program that appears to be legitimate and safe, but is actually malware used to steal data or spy on victims. Many Trojans will also download additional malware once they’ve been opened or installed.

Adware – This is a form of malware that hides on your device and serves you advertisements. Some forms of adware will also monitor your online behaviour, gather data without your permission and target you with specific ads.

Man-in-the-middle-attack This involves a hacker secretly intercepting and relaying messages between two parties who believe they are communicating directly with each other. As a type of eavesdropping, this often involves the victim passing sensitive information to the attackers.

Who could be a cyber threat?

These days, cyber threats can originate from a range of sources and involve many different kinds of ‘actors’ (in Cyber Security jargon, an ‘actor’ is the person responsible for committing a cybercrime). Some of the people who are most commonly responsible for perpetrating cyber attacks include:  

  • Lone hackers
  • Corporate spies
  • Hacktivists
  • Terrorist groups
  • Hostile nation-states
  • Criminal organisations
  • Disgruntled employees/ex-employees

Best practices to counter cyber attacks in 2022

Best Cyber Security Practices infographic

You don’t have to be a fully-fledged Cyber Security Professional to implement a high level of Cyber Security. A few simple steps that anyone can follow to secure their workplace or business include:

  • Enable multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires two or more proofs of identity to grant access.

As well as passwords and passphrases, multi-factor authentication relies on:

    • Random pins
    • Biometrics / fingerprints
    • Authenticator apps
    • Emails
    • SMS messages
  • Use strong, varied passwords and passphrases. In cases where multi-factor authentication is not available, a strong password or passphrase can be the last line of defence between hackers and your online accounts. 

Passwords and passphrases are most effective when they are long, unpredictable and unique. It’s best to include a mixture of letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols.

  • Use anti-malware software. Anti-malware is a type of software that protects computers and systems from malware, such as spyware, adware, and worms. Anti-malware scans your system in real-time to filter out all types of malicious software. It will also block any suspicious installations that attempt to change your computer’s settings or access unauthorised areas of your network. 

Types of Cyber Security

Cyber Security takes many forms and to cover all of its bases, an organisation should develop a comprehensive plan that addresses all of these major types of Cyber Security:

Network security – Network security is a broad term that covers a range of processes and technologies used to defend a network. This involves a set of rules and configurations that are implemented to protect the accessibility and confidentiality of a computer network and its data.

Application security – This is the process of using security software, hardware and best practices to protect computer applications from external threats. Incorporating application security into the life cycle of an app enables development teams to design more secure end products. 

Infrastructure security – This is the practice of protecting critical systems and online assets against cyber threats. This typically covers hardware and software, such as end-user devices, data centre resources, networking systems, and cloud resources.

Cloud security – Also known as cloud computing security, cloud security is a series of security measures designed to protect cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and data. Cloud security measures ensure user authentication, data and resource access control, and protect the privacy of data.

Mobile security – Mobile security is the protection of smartphones, tablets, and laptops from threats associated with wireless computing. In a world where many people work remotely, mobile security has become increasingly important. Security measures include multi-factor authentication, data encryption and the ability to wipe or lock stolen devices.  

Data security – Data security is the practice of protecting digital information from unauthorised access, corruption, or theft throughout its entire life cycle. An example of data security would be using encryption techniques to prevent hackers from using your data even if it’s breached.

Cyber Security career prospects in Australia

The Australian Cyber Security market is forecast to increase in value to US$5.8 billion by 2024, growing at a rate of over 8% annually. As a result, the demand for skilled Cyber Security Professionals in Australia has never been higher and is set only to rise. Seek is currently advertising 1,959+ roles nationally.

Cyber Security career prospects in Australia infographic

For a detailed breakdown of industry statistics, the latest trends and your earning potential as a Cyber Security Professional, read our full Cyber Security Market Update.

How to get into Cyber Security in Australia

When it comes to breaking into the Cyber Security industry, there’s no bypassing the need for a formal certification. 

Cyber Security is a highly technical field that calls for proficiency with the latest technology and software, while you’ll also need a firm grasp of Cyber Security best practices, risk assessment, threat intelligence and governance. To add all these skills to your toolbox, you’ll need formal training. 

There are a range of options when it comes to earning a certification in Cyber Security, including university degrees which normally take three years to complete. For those looking to transition into the industry more swiftly, short and condensed bootcamp-style courses can be a great option. 

What Cyber Security courses does Academy Xi offer?

Our new Cyber Security Engineering: Transform course gives you the skills employers are searching for and takes you from beginner to job-ready in just 10 months. 

You’ll develop a full spectrum of Cyber Security skills and get the chance to:

  • Develop the technical and critical thinking skills required of today’s Cyber Security Professionals
  • Perform risk assessments and implement countermeasures
  • Deliver Cyber Security reports to management and stakeholders
  • Access 1:1 sessions with an industry-experienced mentor 
  • Present your capstone project to a panel of experts at an industry showcase
  • Prepare for the CompTIA Security+ exam and earn a globally recognised certification*

Best of all, you’ll get access to 24 weeks of guidance from a Career Support Program that helps 97% of graduates straight into the industry!  

Want to discuss your transferable skills and course options? Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your Cyber Security journey.