Analysis: In Australia, a hacking frenzy spurred by an undersized cybersecurity workforce

SYDNEY, (HRNW) – A swathe of hacks on some of Australia’s biggest companies has made the country a target for copycat attacks just as a skills shortage leaves an understaffed, overworked cybersecurity workforce ill-equipped to stop it, technology experts said.

As Monday saw the disclosure of another potential breach of sensitive data – a ransomware attack on a communication platform for military personnel – cybersecurity experts put a wave of high-profile breaches down to a common factor: human error.

Between Australia’s No. 2 telecoms company Optus, which is owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (STEL.SI), and the country’s biggest health insurer, Medibank Private Ltd (MPL.AX), some 14 million customer accounts have had data hacked – equivalent to 56% of the population – since Sept. 22 alone.

The workforce weakness assertion points to a problem with no quick fix.

After COVID-19 border closures which ended in late 2021, Australian immigration officials say they are still working through one million visa applications from people seeking to work in the country, many in technology and cybersecurity jobs for employers looking to fill vacancies abroad.

“They don’t have enough trained people to take it seriously and do what is needed,” said Sanjay Jha, chief scientist at the University of New South Wales institute for cybersecurity.