Victoria Uni staff install network in Samoa, prioritise cybersecurity

Cybersecurity 100-level course a first for New Zealand

Western Samoa is set to benefit from a permanent wireless network being installed at the National University of Samoa in Upolu by Victoria University staff, with a key consideration being training for cybersecurity.

Associate professor Ian Welch, from the Victoria University Engineering and Computer Science School, is part of a team in Samoa this month installing 10 wireless network points.

“Having these units will open up new learning and teaching opportunities for the University,” he says, adding that cybersecurity education is being delivered alongside the initiative. “With their new high-speed internet connection they are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which could have devastating economic consequences.”

To support the network deployment Welch, together with teaching fellow Matt Stevens, will run workshops on cryptography and cybersecurity for staff and students at the National University of Samoa.

Victoria University also offers cyber security education in Fiji through its partnership with CyberToa, a Wellington business specialising in cybersecurity solutions for government and the private sector.

There has been an increased focus on cybersecurity internationally, and New Zealand is among many nations upping its capability in this area. In 2017, New Zealanders reported losses of over $5.3 million from cyber incidents and Communications Minister Clare Curran recently announced a comprehensive refresh of New Zealand’s approach to cyber security, releasing two cabinet papers detailing her proposed approach. The review will involve close collaboration with the private sector and citizens.

Meanwhile Victoria University has also launched a 100-level paper in cybersecurity, which it claims is the first in New Zealand. Professor Welch says it is designed to help address the “huge skills-shortage” in this area.

“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,” he says.

“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 out students gain these globally relevant skills.”

Welch says the University drew on its partnership with the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, when developing the 100-level paper.

“Through this partnership we have access to leader researchers, United States funding, and several exciting projects,” he says.

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