Victoria University launches new cyber-security initiatives

Mumbai: A Staff from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Engineering and Computer Science are in Samoa this month as part of an initiative to bring cyber-security education to the Pacific and beyond.

The group is installing 10 wireless network points to create a permanent wireless network at the National University of Samoa in Upolu, and will also advise on cyber-security.

“Having these units will open up new learning and teaching opportunities for the University,” Associate Professor Ian Welch says. But he says cyber-security education must be delivered alongside the initiative. “With their new high speed internet connection they are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which could have devastating economic consequences.”

Victoria University of Wellington’s Pipitea CampusHe and Matt Stevens, Teaching Fellow at the School of Engineering and Computer Science, will run workshops on cryptography—the process of securing online communications—and cyber-security for staff and students at the National University of Samoa.

A group led by School Manager Suzan Hall will also travel to schools in Samoa to teach students and teachers about digital technology. This initiative was first suggested by Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

“This project will strengthen our relationship with the National University of Samoa,” says Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban. “Along with the other initiatives and partnerships we have in the region, this cyber-security and digital education project is a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with our neighbours in the Pacific and play our part in helping our Pacific region to grow.”

Victoria University of Wellington’s Pipitea CampusVictoria University have also recently launched a 100-level paper in cyber-security—the first in New Zealand. This paper was developed in conjunction with CyberToa and other industry partners to fill what Associate Professor Welch refers to as a “huge skills-shortage”.

“We worked with industry to develop this paper to give students an understanding of the people, information, and processes behind cyber-security and train the people needed to fill jobs in the cyber-security industry,” says Associate Professor Welch. “We’re excited to see over 400 students studying engineering, information systems, and even a small group from law taking the paper this year, and we look forward to continuing to help our students gain these globally relevant skills.”

These two projects are part of ongoing international work and industry partnerships. Victoria University also offers cyber-security education in Fiji through its partnership with Wellington business CyberToa. Dale Carnegie, Dean of Victoria University’s School of Engineering, helped CyberToa connect with the University of the South Pacific, where they now teach four postgraduate courses.

Chris Ward, co-founder of CyberToa, says, “Our partnership with Victoria University helps us expand our business in the Pacific and improve cyber-security training in that area. In turn, Victoria University has access to some of our international connections.”

One of these international connections is with the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the world’s leading providers of cyber-security training. Victoria University drew on the expertise gained through this partnership to develop its 100-level paper, as well as working on several joint research projects with Carnegie Mellon.

“Through this partnership we have access to leading researchers, United States funding, and several exciting projects,” Associate Professor Welch says.