Educators NZ - Waikato Uni student presents cybersecurity research to Tongan IT experts

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Waikato Uni student presents cybersecurity research to Tongan IT experts

The University of Waikato has sent a Tongan student to present a cyber security thesis to more than 20 information system personnel from line ministries and agencies in Tonga, in an effort to grow country relationships and highlight the importance of cybersecurity.

Siuta Laulaupea’alu presented his thesis, titled ‘Data Security Assessment for the Government Information Systems in Tonga’, was part of his Masters degree in Cyber Security. 

Dr Ryan Ko, the University of Waikato’s head of Cyber Security Lab, says the trip to Tonga was to report the thesis findings on the current cybersecurity awareness and readiness. It also builds a working relationship with the Government of Tonga.

“Last year we came here and we were talking about working together. The University of Waikato Cyber Security Lab and Tongan Government wishes to work together on not just cyber security education but on research together so to start going deeper into research we have to know the current status and the situation so once we know that then we know which areas we can focus on and we can set priorities that will benefit the Tongan people,” Ko says.

Ko says that the Government of Tonga recognises that it has done well in its security efforts, but there’s always more development ahead.

“I think with the leadership of the Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni, Tonga has done very well already in establishing the Tonga CERT, right now we saw that the awareness is the key number one step that we have to educate, not just the government servants but also for example the people on the streets and the public,” he says.

Ko explains that Tongan internet users would be a prime audience for educational messages, campaigns and posters about common threats, such as an ATM scam. 

“Through information about new scams or television messages, the government can help to tell people how to look out for it and be aware of the risks. This way, the whole country can be safer in terms of cyber attacks,” he says.

The University of Waikato and the Government of Tonga will be working towards a memorandum of understanding, and will also be conducting research through the Tonga CERT and MEIDECC, as well as providing education and scholarships for IT personnel.

“It is an honour to be back here and present my findings and I am grateful that my lecturer Dr. Ryan is here with me. I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to study in Waikato. My family and I migrated to New Zealand once becoming a New Zealand citizen the tuition is cheaper so that was a great opportunity for me,” adds Laulaupea’alu.

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