Changed guidelines lead to more firsts for cybersecurity

6 November 2014

Jeff Garae

Top scholar: Vanuatu student Jeff Garae, right, and his superviser Dr Ryan Ko.

A Vanuatu student has contributed to the ever-increasing list of firsts being achieved by the University of Waikato’s cyber security programme.

Interest in cyber security

Jeff Garae initially came to the University in 2013 as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) NZ Aid programme to complete a Masters in Computer Science and during that time, he developed an interest in cyber security, one of the fastest growing IT sectors in the world.

“So I decided to study towards a Master of Cyber Security instead,” he says. “I looked for a supervisor and was very fortunate to be accepted by Dr Ryan Ko in cyber security. I’m extremely happy to be part of that.”

Dr Ko heads New Zealand’s only cyber security lab and was instrumental last year in the launch of New Zealand’s first masters degree in cyber security. He is also the Research Advisor for the Asia Pacific region of Cloud Security Alliance, the leading global consortium for cloud security best practices.

Jeff is currently completing his Masters in Cyber Security and is the first University of Waikato student to be granted an extension under changed MFAT guidelines and he will now carry out a further three years’ study to complete his PhD, likely becoming the first Pacific student with the qualification.

Scholarship upgrade for exceptional scholar

Caitriona Gyde, the International Services Office Student Adviser for the NZ AID Scholarship, says she recognised Jeff as an exceptional scholar who fitted a strict set of criteria for consideration for additional scholarship funding by MFAT. A scholarship upgrade is awarded in exceptional circumstances and it is the first application to be granted to a scholar at this University.

Dr Ko says Jeff will be a real asset to the cyber security industry and to his country when he returns to Vanuatu, which has one of the largest IT hubs in the Pacific.

One of the conditions of the scholarship is that Jeff must return to Vanuatu for at least two years at the completion of his studies in order that his knowledge will benefit his country.

 “It will be good to have someone like Jeff there and it will enhance the relationships between us and Vanuatu,” Dr Ko says. “He is an outstanding student, and I look forward to working with him on his PhD.”

Jeff says he is thankful for the opportunity to work with Dr Ko and hopes the next few years will build an enduring relationship.

“I am hoping to strengthen the ties between the university and Vanuatu, that way everyone gains. I wanted to do something different and this is quite unique so I was very fortunate to be accepted. This will bring a lot of value to the country when I go back. It will contribute a lot.”

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