01 Oct 2014
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Perfect timing for cyber security boost

Cyber security is providing a great opportunity for New Zealand, with the new research funding coming at just the right time, says Professor Hossein Sarrafzadeh, Unitec Head of Computing and head of the institute’s Cyber Security Research Centre.

“We are a trusted nation and this asset of trust can be used to create opportunities for companies in the areas of the cloud and security.

“We can make New Zealand a hub for cyber security and cloud services that has the trust of the world.”

Sarrafzadeh’s comments follow the announcement of the $10.6 million grant that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has committed to the Security Technologies Returning Accountability, Transparency and User-centric Services (STRATUS) project.

Working together on the initiative are Unitec, Waikato University, the University of Auckland and the Cloud Security Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the use of best practice for providing security within cloud computing.

The project will create tools to return the control of cloud-based data to users, and is being led by Dr Ryan Ko, senior lecturer in the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Studies at the University of Waikato.

Sarrafzadeh says new software systems with new security issues are challenging for the world of IT security.

“Our problem space is growing faster than we can fix it especially with the increasing number of devices becoming accessible through the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart sensors.

“There is no doubt that we need better security but who is going to do this work?”

A human capital crisis exists globally in the area of cyber security, says Sarrafzadeh, and its making its way to New Zealand. He says that industry, government and the education sector have a shared responsibility to address the issue.

“We all need to join forces and move fast. Many security breaches are detected and fixed on a daily basis. We need skilled people who not only secure our existing systems but also have the capability to address the security needs of the future cyber physical systems, such as smart home appliances and smart energy grid.

“We need to work with all stakeholders to fill the global skill shortage in this important and strategic area, to accelerate the availability of a skilled workforce, and to improve the cyber behaviour, capability, and knowledge of the nation.”

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