Optus scholarship students are the future of cybersecurity

Optus scholarship students are the future of cybersecurity

La Trobe Optus Cybersecurity Scholarship recipients, Emily Pendlebury and Daniel Hussey (middle), with John Paitardis, Managing Director Optus Business (left), and John Dewar, La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor (right).

With the rapid rise of new technologies transforming many industries, there’s been a lot of doom and gloom in the media about jobs being phased out of existence. What’s not talked about so often is the very same technologies are spawning new careers that are now in demand on a global scale.

One such industry is cybersecurity. Digital technology permeates almost every facet of our lives, and the misappropriation of that technology is now a serious concern.

As part of our commitment to equipping the next generation of cybersecurity experts, we’ve partnered with Optus to offer scholarships to students studying our cybersecurity degrees. These scholarships give financial support to the best and brightest future leaders in the world of cybersecurity.

We spoke with La Trobe scholarship recipients Emily Pendlebury (studying our Bachelor of Cybersecurity) and Daniel Hussey (undertaking our Master of Cybersecurity) about the scholarship and their career aspirations.

The La Trobe Optus Cybersecurity Scholarship is open until 31 January 2019. Each scholarship is worth $5000 per year for up to 2 years. If you’re eligible, apply now.

What does winning the scholarship mean to you?

Emily: Winning the scholarship means so much to me. It’s given me the confidence I need to stand as a strong woman in this industry. The opportunity to prove myself was also a great motivator for to me to study hard. It’s helping me to connect with like-minded people and pushing me to grow as an individual.

Daniel: It means I’m able to devote more time to study and improve my skills. Seeing cyber recognised as a growth area has assured me there is a strong future for myself and other La Trobe students pursuing his path.

What’s it like studying cybersecurity at La Trobe?

Emily: My experience has been nothing short of amazing. Our cohort is the first to experience the facilities in the refurbished CISCO lab. We’re also the first to have staff with extensive industry experience guiding us through our journey. With these tools and experts on hand, I feel well equipped for my career in cybersecurity.

Daniel: La Trobe was among the first Australian universities to offer courses in cybersecurity. We’ll be uniquely placed to demonstrate a commitment to our field at a time when cybersecurity is gaining recognition as an essential consideration for any modern organisation.

What do you see as the most serious cybersecurity challenge facing the world?

Emily: The lack of awareness surrounding cybersecurity. Any device connected to the internet can be used for malicious purposes in the hands of an attacker if only a single weak password stands in its way.

Humans are prone to creating weak and predictable passwords. For example, most PINs start with “19”. We tend to use our birth years because they’re easy to remember. Raising awareness about password strength and multi-factor authentication needs to be encouraged.

Daniel: One of the most concerning possibilities is a boom in Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are developed without proper security considerations. Once these devices become ubiquitous in homes and businesses, there are sure to be some interesting headlines.

At a higher level, nation states and other resourced groups are certain to turn to cyber-means to pursue their interests. Managing conflict and norms around offensive cyber-techniques may be the most serious challenge we’ll face, both in technical and non-technical terms.

Any tips for people thinking of studying cybersecurity?

Emily: Take advantage of your resources. I came from a non-tech background and found using online content and reaching out to my teachers for help broadened my understanding. I’d also recommend joining one of the amazing clubs at La Trobe to really become involved in the community.

Daniel: Seek out people in the security community who want to help. They are definitely out there. Be honest about what your interests are, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. People will tell you how to improve, learn more and get what you want out of a career in cyber.

Get involved in as many extracurricular events in the security community as you can. Seek out placements, bootcamps and workshops. It feels like there are meetups, conferences and hackathons every few days. They all have something different to offer.

Find out more about studying cybersecurity at La Trobe

Already studying cybersecurity at La Trobe? Apply for the La Trobe Optus Cybersecurity Scholarship.

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