A matter of security
Armed with the support of the Country Education Foundation and an Audi Foundation scholarship, Johnathan Woods is pursuing a career fighting the very real menace of cyber crime.
For all of the wonderful benefits of the internet and the burgeoning online business world, there is a correspondingly dark side increasingly being exploited by a new breed of criminals – which gives rise to people like Johnathan Woods and his goal of working to combat cyber crime.
Courtesy of Johnathan Woods and iStock
10 June, 2022
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), a cyber crime is reported every eight minutes
Just as more and more of life and business is conducted online in the modern age, so too the criminal fraternity have embraced the same technology, with cyber crime unfortunately becoming one of the great growth industries on earth.
From scam emails professing to be from wealthy benefactors, to identity fraud and embezzlement, to sophisticated cyber attacks on banks and national institutions by ‘foreign actors’, the threat is all too real and run by often extremely professional groups.
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), a cyber crime is reported every eight minutes, and yet for most individuals, the closest they come to cyber security is occasionally updating their anti-virus software and deleting suspect emails.
But this burgeoning area of online activity also attracts those talented and driven individuals not drawn to ‘the dark side’ but looking to forge careers in cyber security, actively battling the increasingly and constantly evolving threat of online or cyber crime.
One such individual is Johnathan Woods, a 2021 high school graduate from Dubbo, who, with the help of the Country Education Foundation (CEF) and the Audi Foundation, is pursuing a career in the fast moving field of cyber security.
Now a first-year student studying a Bachelor of Cyber Security at Macquarie University, Johnathan is one of 11 Audi Foundation – CEF Scholarship recipients this year, which has seen successful applicants from New South Wales to the Northern Territory and to Eudunda in South Australia all assisted in chasing their dreams and pursuing tertiary studies across a range of diverse and citing-edge fields.
“Honestly, I didn’t particularly know what I wanted to get into during school, but I’ve had an interest in IT and especially in cyber security for as long as I can remember,” says Johnathan. “It’s a rapidly evolving field, it’s never the same, you’re always learning, you’re always challenging yourself and I figured, if I don’t know what to do with myself, I may as well do something I’m passionate about and something that I enjoy. Let’s see where it leads me.”
Given his geographic location, the first hurdle for Johnathan in becoming a cyber security specialist was overcome with the assistance of the CEF and the Audi Foundation.
“I live out in the country and I needed a hand this year with moving away, getting set up, and with extra finance for textbooks,” he says.
Now a first-year student studying a Bachelor of Cyber Security at Macquarie University, Johnathan is one of 11 Audi Foundation – CEF Scholarship recipients this year
“I taught myself how to write code in Python in the lock down in 2021 – that was my only experience with code”
“The grants have really assisted so much with my transition to tertiary education. The Country Education Foundation/Morling Residential College Scholarship is an accommodation grant which has covered my housing this year. Then the Gilgandra Country Education Foundation Grant and the Audi Grant have helped me buy textbooks and a desktop computer so I can do all the bigger, heavier duty tasks at uni, like the cryptography and penetration testing.”
“You want to future proof and get the best of the best if it’s for a career you’re passionate about and I am passionate about this so I may as well shoot for the stars.”
The course, like the field ahead, is tough and requires application and adaptability which Johnathan has shown he has in abundance.
“I’m doing an introductory programming unit and I’ve got two more programming units next semester. It's a giant challenge because it’s new to me, and anyone that hasn’t had much experience, if you’re not on top of it then it can get hard quickly,” he says.
“I honestly taught myself how to write code in Python in the lock down in 2021 – that was my only experience with code.”
According to the Edith Cowan University, Australian individuals and businesses alone lost an estimated $33 billion in the 2020-21 financial, with these types of figures trending upwards at a rate that would make any legitimate enterprise sing.
“In this degree, I’ve seen how people have been affected by (cyber security issues) and it’s influenced me to keep going. It’s shocking to see how much security is needed, it’s so integral across all industries,” Johnathan says. “It’s just so diverse. Four years ago, you would’ve known all there was to know about cyber security by studying it, but now you’ll never learn everything because it’s just such a wide field. It’s incredible just how essential it is in society. It just blows me away and it’s desperately frightening when you think about how much the public doesn’t know.”
Just as the types of cyber attacks are increasing exponentially, so too the number of specialised roles within the cyber security field are vast and constantly evolving to meet the threats. This assorts people like Johnathan the chance to work in any number of roles within the cyber security space and make for a challenging and exciting career path.
“There are so many different fields within cyber security,” says Woods of what lies ahead of him professionally.
“I’m interested in encryption and cryptography – so deciphering and creating ciphers. I can see myself doing security engineering and eventually becoming a chief information security officer somewhere like a bank.”
“ Or I can see myself going into digital forensics and investigations as part of the police and tracking crime. There’s so much to dive into and it’s all so exciting. I’m absolutely loving it.”
Just as the types of cyber attacks are increasing exponentially, so too are the number of specialised roles within the cyber security field
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