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Palo Alto Networks opens cyber range in Australia

The first of its kind in Asia-Pacific, the cyber range training facility will let Australian IT and security teams hone their skills through cyber security exercises

Palo Alto Networks has opened its cyber range training facility in Sydney to shore up the cyber security capabilities of Australian enterprises.

The first of its kind in Asia-Pacific and the fourth in the world, the facility will let IT and security teams hone their skills through cyber security exercises, where participants will be tasked to maintain the security and stability of networks and applications most targeted by hackers.

Instructors will also be on hand to simulate network functions and traffic to create a realistic network experience. By combining different teams and personalities, Palo Alto Networks said the cyber range will offer participants different perspectives and ideas that can help expand their understanding of cyber risks and security best practices.

Cyber security skills remain in short supply in Australia. According to a report by the non-profit Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, the country will need an additional 11,000 cyber security workers over the next decade – for technical as well as non-technical positions – just to meet the industry’s “business-as-usual” demand forecasts.

To that, Palo Alto Networks said the cyber range “provides a unique opportunity for businesses to proactively evolve their employees’ cyber security skills as they relate to the changing networks”, adding that the facility also provides a testing ground for those who are interested in repurposing their talent for cyber roles within their organisation.

Mark McLaughlin, the vice-chairman of Palo Alto Networks who opened the Sydney facility this week, said: “Cyber criminals are only becoming better funded, more sophisticated and automated, and more strategic in their attacks. The financial, reputational, and operational ramifications of a successful attack can be severe.

“The only way to protect against these threats is to not only keep pace with the criminals but outrun them with better skills and a deeper understanding of how to win the battle. With these and other cyber skills in such short supply globally, Palo Alto Networks is working with the industry to give security professionals the capabilities and tools to prevent successful cyber attacks.”

In its 2016 cyber security strategy report, the Australian government underscored its commitment to address the critical shortage of skilled cyber security professionals.

“Building on the government’s existing science, technology, engineering and mathematics related initiatives, we will tackle this major problem through all levels of the education system, starting with the most urgent need in the tertiary sector,” it said.

These efforts are well underway, starting with Cyber Security Challenge Australia, an annual cyber security competition for Australian tertiary students run by an alliance made up of the Australian government, business, academic and research professionals.

The competition runs over 24 hours and tests the technical and communications skills of participants while promoting cyber security careers.

In June 2017, the Australian government also forged closer ties with Singapore through an agreement that covers areas such as threat information sharing and cyber security training, among other areas.  

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