Australia’s Cyberwar Against Ransomware Hit by a Skills Shortage

Cyber security industry insiders have warned that the Australian government’s plan to beef up its offensive cyber attacking capabilities against criminals could be undermined by a massive skills shortage across the sector and competition to attract the best talent1.

The Morrison government has announced plans to add 100 additional personnel to the Australian Federal Police2 to target cyber criminals, buoyed by $89.9 million of funding, as part of its Ransomware Action plan.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews announced the ransomware action plan in October. 

However, the AFP, Australian Cyber Security Centre and Australian Signals Directorate won’t be able to find enough staff with the skills to undertake the initiatives.

“The challenge will be for the ACSC and the ASD – they’re getting talent from the same pools that we are. There’s a significant shortage of talent in Australia, so if you’re going to recruit a huge amount of people into government – which I think is great ... you are taking good people out of the industry. We need good people everywhere, so I don’t know how that’s going to work,”

McGrathNicol partner Shane Bell said.

According to a report by digital learning group Skillsoft, which is listed in New York, IT professionals in the Asia Pacific region had the most considerable increase in pay – 10 per cent – in 2021, compared with any other part in the world.

It also found that cyber security and risk management jobs were the highest-paid within organisations after the executive suite.