DSD Offers Pittance for Australian Cyber Defence

August 14, 2008 by
Filed under: Australian News, Humour, IT News 

If you were a top notch IT security expert living in Sydney, would you be enticed by a job offering $52,000-$72,959 in remuneration so you can be subjected to a gruelling interview process that involves digging up your past, being analysed by shrinks, and if you succeed, having to move to Canberra to get bored out of your brain?

The Australian Department of Defence thinks so!

A short while ago, I logged into my gmail account and noticed a banner ad that really caught my eye

“DSD Tech Security Jobs – www.dsd.gov.au – Malicous IFRAMEs? Heap overflows? You’ll love what we do.”

The Australian Defence Signals Directorate (the equivalent of the American National Security Agency), who are a division of the Department of Defence, is recruiting experts to work in Cyber Operations.

The following is quoted from their FAQ:

I’m not sure what level I should apply for, what should I do?

If this is the case, you should apply for all three levels.  If you are a successful applicant you will be offered an APS Position (APS 4-6) commensurate with your performance during the selection process.  If you only wish to apply for a specific level, you must clearly state this on your application form.  

The current salary ranges are:

APS 4 – $52 009 – $57 094
APS 5 – $58 009 – $62 135
APS 6 – $63 550 – $72 595

These rates will increase by 3.1% on Christmas day (2008).  Superannuation is in addition to this!

We will be holding assessment centres in Canberra during the week of 8 September. The 2 day process will involve an individual technical assessment and interview, some group based exercises, some paperwork and an interview with our friendly psychologists. Don’t stress too much.

What other benefits are there in working for DSD?

  • Generous superannuation (15.4%)
  • Free gym
  • Free parking
  • Opportunities to salary package
  • Flexible working conditions
  • Generous study provisions and developmental opportunities.

OK, I was a bit too hasty – there is free parking, as we all know about the terrible shortage they have in Canberra. The gym is also good – when you’re bored of Canberra life, you can vent your frustration by pumping iron. Oh yes, and the job is secure.

But seriously, it troubles me that the sort of people are prepared to work for peanuts are going to be on the front lines of our country’s cyber defence. I know a number of programmers in Sydney who get over $90,000 (plus super) for far more trivial activities.

Furthermore, when I think of true security experts, I think of reformed hackers, like Kevin Mitnick and Kevin Poulsen. Would they pass a security clearance?

Of course, there may be a reason for the low pay. Perhaps our country is not really under threat, and the job consists of merely watching packet dumps scrolling down a monitor or playing network computer games? I really don’t know – it’s all classified.


3 Comments on DSD Offers Pittance for Australian Cyber Defence

  1. curve on Thu, 14th Aug 2008 2:38 pm
  2. The pay it not *that* bad, plenty of people get a similar amount in Sydney. However, considering the position, the back ground checks and the nature of the position, it is a pittance.
    It amazes me how the military is trying to make every thing associated with working there sound fun and encouraging. I know some people who have gone through the interview and clearance program for important graduate jobs, and it is anything but ‘fun’.

  3. jj on Tue, 23rd Sep 2008 10:42 am
  4. The type of security research skills they elude to in their advertisements will fetch salaries in a range well above $100k within the commerical sector. The one advantage they do have is that these kind of specialist jobs are generally not easily available in Australia.

    I guess they are aiming towards the naive but enthusiastic university students who will stick around a few years before the appeal of working for the dsd wears off. I can’t see them holding onto good people for to long without being competitive on the salary front.

  5. ha on Fri, 5th Aug 2011 4:44 pm
  6. Yeah because we all know that the best people are those motivated by who can offer the most $$ right? People who accept lower pay packets for tons more interesting work in a nicer environment with a meaningful job that doesn’t contribute to a CEO’s pay packet can’t POSSIBLY protect Australia’s interests properly.

    this blog post has just so much insight. so much.

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