Cyber crims spark ‘ethical hackers’ demand

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The continued growth in cyber attacks and their potential to wreak havoc on companies, governments and the wider community has created a demand for “ethical hackers” to help bolster computer security.

An estimated 7000 Australian cybersecurity jobs will be created by 2024 with businesses urged to upskill existing employees and invest in specialist hackers who can identify weaknesses in computer systems.

Ethical hacking expert at Koenig Solutions Nityanand Thakur says companies who haven’t thought about using this method for protecting data should.

“Hacking has earned itself negative connotations within the media, understandably so,” he said.

“This can make it hard for businesses to get their head around the idea of it being done ethically but it affects everyone from individuals to businesses to government organisations.

“With cybersecurity, it’s better to learn from other businesses’ mistakes of not being prepared.”

Ethical or white-hat hackers penetrate systems, networks, applications or other computing resources on behalf of their owners.

Organisations call on them to uncover potential security issues that malicious hackers could exploit.

Former IBM executive John Patrick is thought to have coined the term in the 1990s, though the concept was likely around much earlier.

Its growing importance would be hard to overestimate considering 59,000 cybercrimes were reported in Australia in 2019/20, earning the country the title of the sixth most hacked in the world based on data analysed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Major companies have fallen victim in recent months, with an attack disrupting some of Channel Nine’s broadcasts in March.

Another in April targeted two Brisbane hospitals and a number of aged care centres while in June meat processing company JBS Foods confirmed it paid $14.2 million to end a five-day attack that halted its global operations, including those in Australia.

According to the 2021 IBM Cost of a Data Breach report, the average cost of a breach to Australian companies is $3.7 million with companies taking on average 10 months to detect and contain incursions.

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