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Victoria University of Wellington takes cybersecurity message to Samoa

03 May 2018

Staff from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Engineering and Computer Science are currently in Samoa to spread the word about cybersecurity.

Associate Professor Ian Welch and teaching fellow Matt Stevens will run cryptography workshops and cybersecurity advice for both staff and students at the National University of Samoa.

To help facilitate the projects, the group is installing ten wireless network points as part of a permanent wireless network at the university. They will also advise on cybersecurity issues.

“Having these units will open up new learning and teaching opportunities for the university,” Welch says.

But he warns that cybersecurity education is also a critical part of the project.

“With their new high speed internet connection they are vulnerable to cyber attacks, which could have devastating economic consequences.”

As part of a recommendation from Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika), Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, School manager Suzan Hall will lead a group responsible for travelling to schools around Samoa. The group will educate students and teachers about digital technologies.

“This project will strengthen our relationship with the National University of Samoa,” comments Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

“Along with the other initiatives and partnerships we have in the region, this cybersecurity 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’s cybersecurity efforts don’t stop there. Its partnership with Wellington-based cybersecurity firm Cyber Toa led to the development of New Zealand’s first 100-level paper in cybersecurity.

The paper was developed to help fill the cybersecurity skills shortage, Welch says.

“We worked with industry to develop this paper to give students an understanding of the people, information, and processes behind cybersecurity and train the people needed to fill jobs in the cybersecurity industry,” he explains.

He says more than 400 students from disciplines including engineering, information systems, and law are taking the paper this year.

“Our partnership with Victoria University helps us expand our business in the Pacific and improve cybersecurity training in that area. In turn, Victoria University has access to some of our international connections,” adds Cyber Toa cofounder Chris Ward.

Victoria University of Wellington has also been working on a number of industry partnerships and international work.

In partnership with Cyber Toa, the University offers cybersecurity education in Fiji. It has also worked on several joint research projects with Carnegie Mellon University, which also provides cybersecurity training.

Dale Carnegie, Dean of Victoria University’s School of Engineering, helped Cyber Toa connect with the University of the South Pacific, where they now teach four postgraduate courses

“We look forward to continuing to help our students gain these globally relevant skills,” Welch concludes.

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