Hacking a real job
HACKERS are being employed to try to find loopholes in computer systems which could ruin the business of Adelaide companies. The difference between these ethical hackers and their criminal counterparts is that companies are paying the computer specialists to do it to their own systems.
‘‘Ethical hacker’’ is a relatively new role in the electronic security industry in South Australia.
It involves finding gaps in information technology systems to protect important and/or confidential data from criminal hacking programmers who seek to exploit the company.
Talent 2 IT recruiter Rick Sharma says a lot of positions have been created in keeping computer systems safe as large companies become more concerned about online protection.
‘‘There’s definitely been an increase in IT security roles, whether it’s security analysts or just companies themselves increasing their own security,’’ he says.
‘‘People are starting to look a bit more at where the gaps are.
‘‘It has become a real focus for organisations.’’
Mr Sharma says the job suits people who have good computer skills as well as a background in IT security.
He says there is strong demand for workers in the information technology sector and workers who start out in IT security can easily make the transition into other careers in the field.
‘‘The majority of the roles in IT right now are in the net programming space,’’ he says.
‘‘There are also roles coming up in business analysis and project management.’’
Audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG is among Adelaide businesses using ethical hackers to test its network as well as the systems of several clients.
IT advisory partner Julie Wobber says the company is looking for a further two ethical hackers to join its team.
‘‘Companies across the world have been brought to their knees by criminal hackers who have exploited a weakness in their IT system,’’ she says. ‘‘This has the potential to destroy a company’s reputation overnight and cause significant financial impact. KPMG is increasingly being called on by our clients to carry out pre-emptive IT trouble shooting that can save enormous problems further down the track.’’
She says every private and public organisation is dependent on its computing system and e-commerce activities so the risk of outlaw hacking is too great to ignore.
The risks that hackers pose to companies include identity theft, credit card fraud, leaving ‘‘graffiti’’ on websites, changing stored information or even causing an entire network to crash. KPMG has many South Australian companies and government organisations on its confidential client list. Ms Wobber says that if the hackers find a weakness in the system, the team works closely with the client to find a solution immediately.
‘‘This is often done before a system goes live, however, we are also constantly testing all systems that are connected to the internet,’’ she says.
Workers in the role often have a diverse background but possess similar skills, such as computer literacy, a highly inquisitive nature and a high level of integrity.
‘‘There is a wealth of talent in IT in Adelaide and we look to recruit the best to become an ethical hacker,’’ Ms Wobber says.
The KPMG security team, headed by Julie Wobber, front, followed by Fiona Law, Jamie Armfield, David Billing and Ben Sandelin-McCann.