Waikato University student classifies cyber attacks with Interpol

More than a third of computers connected to the internet in 2015 were attacked at least once, says a cyber security student.
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More than a third of computers connected to the internet in 2015 were attacked at least once, says a cyber security student.

An international policing organisation is getting a little bit of help from the Waikato.

Cyber attacks are the focus for University of Waikato student Shaun Stricot-Tarboton, 23,  while he works for Interpol in Singapore for three months.

Interpol has 190 member countries, according to its website, and is the world's biggest police organisation.

Shaun Stricot-Tarboton is putting his cyber security knowledge to work for Interpol in Singapore for three months.
UNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO/SUPPLIED

Shaun Stricot-Tarboton is putting his cyber security knowledge to work for Interpol in Singapore for three months.

Masters of Cyber Security student Stricot-Tarboton is in the Singapore office through a Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia.

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He's working on categorising the types of attacks that threaten computer users, and how to make them less damaging.

"Most people have encountered phishing emails, intrusive advertising campaigns, and the occasional virus that has been detected by anti-virus software," Stricot-Tarboton wrote in an email from Singapore.

"These are examples of what people know or have heard about, but it's the unknown that is more dangerous."

He can't give much away about what he's doing, but said the research could be used in areas such as law enforcement or the banking sector in the future.

Cybercrime is estimated to have cost New Zealand lost $247m in 2014.

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Countermeasures, including a Computer Emergency Response Team, were announced the the Government in December 2015.

Stricot-Tarboton said people may not realise more than a third of computers connected to the internet in 2015 were attacked at least once.

"If you think you are hidden among the masses and that an attack will never happen to you, you may have already fallen victim, you just don't know it yet."

"Anyone who pays attention to cyber-crime and cyber security will come to the scary realisation that unless you are prepared to lose everything, from your precious holiday photos to your identity, you are not prepared."

Hence his passion for cyber security, he said - he wants to make the internet a safer place for people who are vulnerable or who don't have extensive knowledge of the area.

His general rule for cyber security is that information online is public knowledge.

"And once it's digital it can be stolen with two commands: Ctrl+C (Copy) Ctrl+V (Paste)."

The Interpol internship opportunity came after a year of planning and discussions between the University of Waikato's cyber security lab and Interpol staffers.

Waikato's Dr Ryan Ko encouraged Stricot-Tarboton to apply.

"Our lab is aiming to address pressing cyber security issues, and an INTERPOL internship will add real-life validation and truly global experience to the students involved," Ko said. 

Stricot-Tarboton saw the opportunity as career-changing and said it would also add to his masters thesis, which he has been working on for more than a year.

His internship will finish in April and until then he's living in a youth hostel in Singapore.

The hardest thing to get used to was the culture of buying all his meals from local "hawker" markets, he said.

"It's so much cheaper than cooking for myself."

 - Stuff

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