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How to become a spy

How to become a spy

Here’s how you could become a cyber spy, working in a top-secret gig for one of many government agencies to help keep Australia safe

Who doesn’t love a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat cyber spy movie, with skilled hackers, super-secret foreign agencies and loads of action?

Of course, the reality of a career as a cyber spy isn’t quite so Hollywood, but if you want a career that lets you use the most cutting-edge techniques to fight the biggest and scariest threats, then a job as a cyber security or threat intelligence analyst in one of Australia’s government agencies could be for you!

The good news is that now is the best time to sign up for a cyber spy career, thanks to the Australian government’s recent $9.9 billion investment over 10 years targeted at building national intelligence and cyber capabilities.


Quiz: Which cyber security job is for you?


Where do Australia’s spies work?

To the untrained eye, the kinds of government agencies where you might work as a cyber spy look a bit like a jumble of acronyms. Here’s the lowdown on some of the main ones:

Australian Defence Force (ADF)

Our military forces, including the Air Force, Navy and Army, undertaking military and humanitarian activities for the nation. Find out more about STEM careers in Defence by reading our free e-magazine.

Australian Federal Police (AFP)

The principal federal law enforcement agency of the Federal Government, investigating and protecting national security. 

Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)

Australia’s military spy agency, which conducts cyber warfare and cyber defence activities. 

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)

Australia’s version of the CIA! It protects us from espionage, sabotage, foreign interference, attacks on critical infrastructure and terrorism. 

Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)

Our foreign human intelligence service. Its job is to collect information through human contacts overseas to benefit Australia and its interests. 

Office of National Intelligence (ONI)

An intelligence agency solely accountable to the Prime Minister of Australia, with a primary duty to provide relevant intelligence. 

Cool program alert

The ADF Cyber Gap Program offers financial support, mentorship and training to cyber students!

Want to kickstart your cyber spy career before you even graduate? One way is through the
ADF’s 12-month Cyber Gap Program, which allows students who are enrolled or already studying in a cyber-related field to gain skills, knowledge and mentoring. The program includes financial support to help cover the cost of the course and related expenses, and does not obligate participants to serve in the ADF. Visit defencejobs.gov.au to find out more.

Could you crack this code?

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the ASD released this special 50c coin, which includes several codes to crack – four layers of which were solved by a 14-year-old from Tasmania in just over an hour! Talk about teen spy skills!

Meet a real-life spy

Bradley Deacon, senior cyber investigator

Bradley Deacon has a background in law and cyber crime, and once worked as a federal agent with the AFP.

“Early in my career as a federal agent in the Australian Federal Police, I was fortunate to be a part of the newly formed Computer Crime Team. It was the early 1990s, just as computers were becoming commonplace. 

The AFP also works closely with state and territory police, and international policing agencies in the fight against cyber crime, and there are a range of STEM areas you can serve in. 

I investigated cases across Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and now work as a cyber crime analyst on some of the most harrowing cyber investigations to help make the internet a safer place for all.”

Bradley’s path

  • Bachelor of Arts (Criminal Justice Administration), RMIT
  • Bachelor of Laws, Deakin University
  • Master of Arts (National Security) (Terrorism), American Military University
  • Graduate Certificate (Cybercrime), American Military University
  • Federal agent (former), AFP
  • Senior cyber investigator, private
Careers with STEM: Cyber Security
Careers with STEM: Cyber Security

This article was originally published in Careers with STEM: Cyber Security – the flip cover to Careers with STEM: Technology. Order a print copy here or read the e-mag for free

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