Masters course promises

Last updated 05:00 09/12/2013

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Knowing where your private information is going to and who might be using it is an enormous issue, and it will only get bigger, says a Waikato University computer sciences expert who has started New Zealand's first cyber security masters course.

Senior lecturer Ryan Ko arrived at Waikato a year ago after working in Hewlett-Packard Cloud and Security Labs in the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore.

Last week he oversaw the launch of New Zealand's first cyber security laboratory at Waikato University. Dubbed Crow - for Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato - the laboratory is planned to be the focal point for the teaching of New Zealand's first masters degree in cyber security.

Mobile IT devices, cloud computing and social networking websites mean huge amounts of personal data is far more easily and publicly available than ever before.

However, this also provides opportunities for those who might misuse private and confidential information.

The aim of the research undertaken in the new laboratory would be to return control of private information to the user, Dr Ko said. The lab has a large-scale cloud computing test bed for realistic testing and is aimed at developing new ways to allow users to know what happens to their data, particularly when it is stored in a cloud environment.

"When it comes to privacy we leave a lot up to trusted individuals. There will always be some people who will take advantage of confidential information.

"Traditionally, cyber security has depended on systems administrators but with the increasing mobility of devices there is more demand for the individual to be empowered to control their own cyber security.

"Cyber security professionals already know how to protect themselves. But at the moment there isn't much out there [training in cyber security] for users, who are a bit like a builder on a building site with no safety equipment.

"The first step is to inculcate security principles into academic training. In the lab we will research ways of returning control back to the user with a focus on game-changing innovation.

Dr Ko said international trends indicated that within the next three years the cyber security industry would be about $90 billion a year.

Demand for professionals trained in cyber security would be three times as great as demand for IT professionals generally, and twelve times greater than average jobseekers.

"The main attraction for anyone taking this degree is that society is going to need more cyber security professionals," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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