Leading the way in cyber security
In a world thats more connected than ever, unprecedented amounts of information about ourselves is shared who\-knows\-where on a daily basis, whether through the internet, our phones, in\-store purchases, or storing data in the cloud. Then theres all the personal information held about us by health providers, schools, banks Most of us have no idea where all this information goes, who sees it, how its stored or how many copies have been made and if your information is deleted, has it really disappeared off the face of the digital planet?
Director of the New Zealand Institute for Security and Crime Science and Head of the University of Waikatos Cyber Security Lab Associate Professor Ryan Ko wants to change that by giving us greater control of our data and privacy.
> At the present time, theres not a lot you can do to protect your data unless youre a geek. Researchers at the University are working to return control of data to everyday people.
Big problems require big solutions; Dr Kos team of international researchers and postgraduate students has worked with everyone from the New Zealand Police and the Defence Force to INTERPOL, most recently hosting the international ISO \(International Organisation for Standardization\) conference on global standards in cyber security. Businesses such as Deloitte and Gallagher also seek out the expertise of the Universitys researchers, looking for ways to secure data linked to confidential client information and billions of dollars of assets. The Universitys cyber security team, [CROW](https://crow.org.nz/) \(Cybersecurity Researchers of Waikato\), has worked with INTERPOL on research to recognise the origins of global bitcoin transactions, a digital currency notorious for being untraceable and often associated with drug payment and ransomware attacks. It was Dr Kos background in security and cloud computing at Hewlett\-Packards Cloud and Security Lab \(in Singapore, Palo Alto and Bristol\) that secured him the job at the University of Waikato in 2012. In Singapore, he had made scientific breakthroughs that changed the global understanding of cloud data provenance; his cloud data tracking innovations continue to be used around the world. At the time, there was no cyber security programme at the University of Waikato, although the need was clear. To fight future threats of cybercrime which cost the world US$450 billion in 2016 alone a whole new generation of cyber skills had to be developed.
Cyber security experts in high demand
Demand for trained professionals in cyber security is increasing globally at 3.5 times the rate of the overall job market; its an industry with a near\-zero unemployment rate. To keep up with demand, Dr Kos team established New Zealands first [Master of Cyber Security](http://www.waikato.ac.nz/study/qualifications/master\-of\-cyber\-security), alongside the countrys first Cyber Security Lab. From humble beginnings, the Cyber Security Lab now represents 17 nationalities, contributing to cyber security on a national and international level. The Universitys researchers are helping the New Zealand Government to implement its Cyber Security Strategy. Dr Ko is part of the eight\-member New Zealand Cyber Security Skills Taskforce that advises the Minister for Communications. Together with his PhD and Honours students, their research in mobile privacy\-preserving electronic voting won a Best Paper Award in a prestigious cloud computing research conference, and was mentioned in the Prime Ministers National Cyber Policy Offices annual report.
This ground\-breaking work continues the Universitys proud legacy of online innovation. In 1989, the Universitys John Houlker brought the internet to New Zealand via a historic collaboration with NASA. Today, Dr Kos team honours this legacy by working to ensure online and internet\-linked environments around the world are safe for everyone.
New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge
With new cyber security threats emerging every day, the University takes its responsibility to engage and educate future generations seriously. In 2014, it launched the [New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge](https://cybersecuritychallenge.org.nz/), an annual competition where the countrys brightest minds become cyber defenders in a game that produces the data needed for researching predictive analytics, attack and defence behaviour. About 400 school students, university students and industry all compete remotely in the initial online round of the much\-anticipated event, which culminates in a final stand off in the Universitys computer labs. Dr Ko says the hacking part of the challenge is the hook for attracting high school students allowing them to turn their perhaps informal skills into a career.
As cyber security threats multiply, Dr Kos team continues to innovate, leading the way in industry trends and opportunities for improvement.
The University of Waikato is the lead in the [STRATUS](http://www.waikato.ac.nz/news\-events/media/2014/university\-of\-waikato\-receives\-more\-than\-$35\-million\-in\-mbie\-research\-funding) \(Security Technologies Returning Accountability, Trust and User\-centric Services in the Cloud\) alliance of cloud security researchers. In 2013, the STRATUS joint cyber security project was awarded a $12.23 million research grant by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment \(MBIE\), the largest computer science research grant in New Zealands history. It is now recognised worldwide as a leader in the fields of data provenance, homomorphic encryption and cloud computing security. STRATUS is a mirror image of what we are trying to do here with our research, creating a brand new industry of DIY security to take to the world, says Dr Ko. Following the 2017 launch of the New Zealand [Institute for Security and Crime Science](http://www.cms.waikato.ac.nz/research/research\-institutes/institute\-for\-security\-and\-crime\-science), a new degree is also in the planning for future University of Waikato students. The Master of Security and Crime Science will be the first qualification of its kind in New Zealand, targeting current and future law enforcement and security practitioners. The multi\-disciplinary course has the support of the New Zealand Police, with its first intake of students in 2018.
At the University of Waikato, we're investing in New Zealands security, training the next generation of cyber security specialists and exporting our expertise and innovations across the world.