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New cybersecurity diploma to address skills gap

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals in New Zealand can now be addressed with a new diploma qualification, according to a recent report.

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi explains that the level six qualifications will give students the technical skills needed for entry-level roles in cyber security.

Cyber security is a diverse and interesting career and this is a great pathway for young Kiwis to enter this in-demand profession or to start further study.

The Cyber Security Skills Taskforce came up with the idea of having a Level 6 Diploma as a response to industry demand for junior cyber security workers that could be trained more quickly than with a traditional degree course.

The New Zealand Qualifications Academy (NZQA) and the New Zealand Institute of IT Professionals convened cyber security experts to develop the diploma.

Having an effective cyber security is essential across government, the private sector and for individuals. It should be guaranteed that the country has the workforce to support its digital economy and enable all of the New Zealanders to thrive online.

This kind of qualification is a win-win because the Kiwis are given the opportunity to get into a rich and rewarding career and at the same time develop a strong and capable cyber security workforce in New Zealand.

If New Zealand is to keep itself secure, more New Zealanders are needed to become skilled to work in the cyber security sector.

This could also be a growth export service if New Zealand puts effort into this area.

Having this qualification is timely, particularly after a survey from Aura Information Security has found out that 40% of businesses reported being targeted by one to five ransomware or phishing attacks per quarter.

Moreover, 20% estimate that the number of attacks is closer to between five and 10 incidents, while 10% said they are subject to 15 or more.

This confirms the wide prevalence of cyberattacks on New Zealand businesses.

Similar to how legitimate businesses operate, cyber criminals use automation and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

These technologies help them identify opportunities and then they focus their attention from where the best results are likely to follow.

Some of the key findings in the survey were a general expectation that cybercrime will continue to grow; budgets dedicated to cybersecurity are increasing; training and policies are in place, but doubts in the effectiveness are still there; the basics are still being ignored; and the existence of personal attacks as four in ten respondents were personally targeted by phishing or ransomware attacks.

Students will be able to register for the new qualification in 2019. Further information is available here.

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