COLLABORATION

Australia: La Trobe gets serious about cybersecurity with NAB alliance

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A constantly evolving threat environment has made cybersecurity a major concern for global economies.

Australia has grand ambitions to position itself as a world leader in cybersecurity but a constantly evolving threat environment means achieving this would require the participation of all sectors of government, community and private entities.

Against such a backdrop, the country is facing a growing need for cybersecurity professionals; buttressing systems against cyberattacks requires more than throwing investment dollars at the problem–it requires actual knowledge and expertise.

In fact, a lack of cybersecurity talent is among one of the biggest problems facing even the most technologically-advanced global economies. Even as cybersecurity becomes a boardroom imperative, business leaders are finding that on top of contending with the challenge of a culture shift in their organisation, another serious concern is the lack of cybersecurity know-how. 

In Australia, universities are in a race against time to get the country’s current and future workforces clued up on cybersecurity. And for a more holistic approach to fixing the talent and knowledge shortfall, they are forming partnerships with industry leaders.

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One such partnership is the Strategic Alliance formed recently between La Trobe University and the National Australia Bank (NAB), which aims to deliver research, teaching and workforce development in cybersecurity.

The alliance builds on La Trobe’s current and ongoing sector-leading efforts in the cybersecurity space, and will help advance Australia’s agenda to become a world leader.

Welcoming the collaboration, La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said it was more critical than ever that universities and industry forge ties to address cybersecurity threats.

“La Trobe University is already at the forefront of research, teaching and policy development though the establishment of the Optus La Trobe Cybersecurity Research Hub,” he said.

“We are delighted to join forces with NAB as one of Australia’s leading banks to create new knowledge, find solutions for industry problems, and train the cyber workforce of the future. Partnering with NAB will provide us with an added level of invaluable expertise.

“We are already researching the latest malware detection and sensing techniques, and the opportunity to expand this research to areas such as data detection and forensics analysis will benefit all Australians.”

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NAB Chief Enterprise Security Officer, David Fairman said: “This partnership marks an important step towards furthering the cybersecurity capabilities within academia and industry alike.

“At NAB, we have a mature security practice, with protecting customers at the very heart. We’re thrilled to join forces with La Trobe to gain deeper insights, identify threats more effectively and help shape the future curriculum for the next generation.”

According to an announcement on La Trobe University’s website, the Alliance agreement will see NAB General Manager Cyber Security and Chief Information Security Officer, Nicholas McKenzie join the La Trobe Cybersecurity Executive Advisory Board.

Per the announcement, the agreement, signed recently at the Victorian Parliament, also covers the following:

Research and development

  • La Trobe and NAB researchers will work together on developing technical solutions, leading to commercialisation opportunities, in cyber intelligence, protection, digital forensics, reverse engineering, malware detection and response.

Learning, teaching and graduate recruitment

  • NAB will contribute to La Trobe’s cybersecurity curriculum as a new member of the Optus La Trobe Cybersecurity Hub Advisory Committee and by specialist staff teaching into the Master of Cybersecurity as guest or sessional lecturers.
  • NAB will propose operational, technical, legal and business research questions for La Trobe Masters by coursework students (to undertake as capstone projects within their degree programs).
  • NAB will provide scholarships and internships to high-achieving, employment-eligible students to add to the future workforce pipeline.

Workforce development

  • La Trobe and NAB will collaborate on developing new cyber training short courses for NAB and other staff, based on NAB and clients’ problems.
  • La Trobe will provide NAB staff with professional short courses, and opportunities for Research Higher Degree and Masters by Coursework programs
  • Opportunities for NAB and La Trobe to co-invest in innovative and shared facilities, including a Security Operations Centre (SOC) and/or Cyber Laboratory in the future.