Kaspersky SecureIT Cup. Fighting cybercrime is the future for RMIT University students

Kaspersky SecureIT Cup
Tracy Tan (L) and Kaspersky Australia CEO Margrith Appleby (R)
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RMIT University has just completed its pilot participation in the Kaspersky SecureIT cup.

The Kaspersky SecureIT Cup is a global program for 18-26-year-old students. The aim is to identify fresh new ideas to help Kaspersky in its mission to save the world from cyberthreats.

Detailed information about the Kaspersky SecureIT Cup is here.

GadgetGuy spoke to Dr Joanne Hall, lecturer in mathematics and cybersecurity at RMIT University. She organised the university’s pilot participation in Kaspersky SecureIT Cup.

Kaspersky SecureIT Cup
Dr Joanne Hall, lecturer in mathematics and cybersecurity at RMIT University.

GG: Your role involves coordinating industry/student events like the Kaspersky SecureIT Cup?

Students need to get to know the scope of the cybersecurity industry. And they need to get to know the key players.

That is why we partnered with Kaspersky to run a pilot CYBERSECURITY COMPETITION 2019@RMIT. It helps them to become interested in cybersecurity.

“Our students are going to go out to make the world a better place, so we need to invite the world into universities. We hope to explore opportunities to work with Kaspersky and more cybersecurity industry partners.”

RMIT University Master of Science student Tracy Tam’s presentation on ‘Cybersecurity in Small Business’. She receives the Australian prize of US$1,000.00 sponsored by Kaspersky.

Kaspersky SecureIT Cup
Student Tracy Tam (L) and Kaspersky bear!

In 2020, RMIT University spurred on by the success of this competition will encourage more students to participate in Kaspersky’s annual and internationally recognised SecureIT cup. The winner gets US $10,000 (AU $14,300). Regional winners are able to attend the Kaspersky Security Analysts Summit – an international event that brings together the world’s foremost IT security experts.

GG: Tell us more about RMIT University and its cybersecurity training.

First, Joanne has a math background. She has a Bachelor’s degree majoring in Pure Mathematics from ANU, and a PhD in Quantum Cryptography from RMIT University.

Second, when not teaching she likes ‘exploring the mathematical structures which underpin cryptographic systems.’

cryptographic systems

She helps to organise work placement and industry collaboration for RMIT’s Bachelor of Science (Mathematics) students. Her hope is that many will go on to complete the graduate certificate in Cyber Security (half year), Diploma of Cybersecurity (one year) or Master of Cyber Security (two years). These are courses to ‘upskill’ suitable graduates in cybersecurity.

RMIT University also offers a six-week refresher ‘Cyber Security Risk and Strategy’ course.

GG: Hall is upbeat about RMIT’s efforts but downbeat in if they are enough.

RMIT University has been offering cybersecurity training for 20 years under the guise of ‘Information Security and Assurance’. Cybersecurity sounds far more exciting. Many other unis have now joined the cybersecurity movement, albeit for a relatively short time.

The next generation of students needs to know so much more. Cybercriminals are embracing quantum computing and cryptography. We are nowhere near being able to produce work-ready graduates to counter that.

GG: One of your concerns is that many students do not complete their Cybersecurity studies.

About half of our students are international and go back home to practice there. Of the other half, they are fresh IT grads right up to 20-year veterans who need a refresher.

The promising ones receive job offers before they complete the course work. Such is the demand for cybersecurity talent.

GG: Who is snapping them up?

Mainly the big consultancies like Ernst and Young (EY) or Deloitte where they get work with a variety of clients. Then corporations and government lure them away.

Come to our recruitment events. You will see fierce competition for cybersecurity talent from a vast range of potential employers.

GG: What makes a good cybersecurity expert?

(Note there are several types of jobs from penetration testers to risk managers – see the Cybersecurity jobs here )

First, a strong ethical framework. As a comparison, you trust certified locksmiths as they must go through the most vigorous vetting process. They won’t use the keys to the castle to rob you.

Well, we need cybersecurity experts with a similarly strong moral compass. The dark side can be very tempting.

Second, and this is a personal bias, strong math. Math teaches you to solve problems, clearly, logically, think abstractly, and see patterns.

But high school math enrolments are on the decline. Too many students don’t see the advantages of choosing math.

While penetration testing (ethical hacking) is ‘sexy’, there are many other cybersecurity jobs such as risk analysis. We need a multi-skilled team to compete with the cybercriminals.

GG: Final words?

I want to say, “Cybercriminals look out,” but we are not there yet. Any publicity is good publicity. Perhaps this will spur STEM students to look at this as a fascinating (and lucrative), essential career and come to RMIT University.

Note you can read about careers in cybersecurity here.