Here's why NAB partnered with La Trobe and how it will help with the next generation of cybersecurity talent. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s why NAB partnered with La Trobe and how it will help with the next generation of cybersecurity talent. Source: Shutterstock

National Australia Bank: Dealing with talent shortages in cybersecurity

PROTECTING against cybersecurity risks is getting increasingly challenging and businesses are struggling to cope with the pressures mounted by sophisticated hackers with intelligent tools at their disposal.

Banks, who are often the targets of the most aggressive cyberattacks, understand that they’re biggest benefit today is the fact that customers trust them with plenty of personal data — it’s their biggest asset but also places significant responsibility on their shoulders.

Failure to protect data has caused companies such as Facebook, Equifax, British Airways, and Marriott International to face severe embarrassment, in addition to significant financial and reputational damages.

In the aftermath of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media giant lost US$119 billion in a single day. According to CNBC, prior to this event, no company in the history of the US stock market has ever lost US$100 billion in market value in just one day.

One of the biggest challenges to effectively defending against cyberattacks is the fact that there’s a shortage of skilled talent in the cybersecurity space.

Business leaders, especially cybersecurity and data protection professionals such as CISOs and DPOs have talked about the issue from time to time but there doesn’t seem to be a real solution.

Obviously, banks and companies in other industries need to stop doing what they’re doing and re-evaluate their strategy — or follow in the footsteps of the National Bank of Australia (NAB).

The bank, one of the largest and most reputable in Australia, just struck a partnership with La Trobe University to deliver research, teaching, and workforce development in the cybersecurity space.

Referred to as a strategic alliance, the agreement was signed in the Federation Room of the Victorian Parliament, and is expected to help both organizations better defend against cyberthreats in the future.

In terms of research and development, NAB intends to work with researchers at La Trobe University to develop technical solutions, leading to commercialization opportunities, in cyber intelligence, protection, digital forensics, reverse engineering, malware detection, and response.

“This partnership marks an important step towards furthering the cybersecurity capabilities within academia and industry alike,” said NAB Chief Enterprise Security Officer David Fairman.

“At NAB, we have a mature security practice, with protecting customers at the very heart. We’re thrilled to join forces with La Trobe to gain deeper insights, identify threats more effectively and help shape the future curriculum for the next generation.”

As a result of the partnership, NAB will also be in a position to propose operational, technical, legal, and business research questions for students pursuing their Master’s degree at La Trobe University (to undertake as capstone projects within their degree programs).

Further, the bank will also have the opportunity to offer scholarships and internships to high-achieving, employment-eligible students with the aim of adding to the future workforce pipeline.

Together, the two organizations aim to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to develop new cyber training professional short courses that enable students to become skilled cybersecurity professionals.

According to a press release, the new strategic alliance also includes the potential for NAB and La Trobe to co-invest in innovative and shared facilities, including a Security Operations Centre (SOC) and/or Cyber Laboratory in the future.

Through this partnership, not only is NAB providing a structured curriculum and set of programs for existing members of staff interested in developing and improving their cybersecurity skills but also ensuring that it has access to a strong pool of qualified, bright cybersecurity talent with the right training.

Other businesses might also consider collaborating with universities if they want to take part in grooming tomorrow’s cybersecurity professionals and identifying and attracting the best and brightest minds in the field.