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RMIT to tackle cyber security challenges

Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has teamed up with Amazon Web Services to launch a Cloud Innovation Centre to solve cyber security challenges

Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) will open a Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) by the middle of 2020 to tackle the country’s cyber security challenges and plug the talent gap.

The CIC is part of a global network of centres spearheaded by cloud supplier Amazon Web Services (AWS) to drive innovation in the public sector, through collaborations with universities including Arizona State University and Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

Tapping AWS cloud services, the CIC will bring together students, researchers, government and subject matter experts to build prototypes that address cyber threats, with a focus on enhancing awareness and literacy of three information security pillars – confidentiality, integrity and availability. 

During a media briefing on the sidelines of AWS re:Invent 2019 in Las Vegas, RMIT vice-chancellor and president Martin Bean said the CIC would also look at projects beyond cyber security, by tapping expertise at the university’s innovation labs in areas such as healthcare and blockchain.

“There are pockets of innovation in the university deliberately designed to look forward in the world of work, and our belief is that crossovers will mature over time,” said Bean. “We’ll also look at adjacencies with other CICs around the world and start thinking about how we can work together.”

In addition, Bean said there was potential for collaboration between students in RMIT’s main campus in Melbourne and those located at its offshore campus in Vietnam to address cyber security challenges from different perspectives.

Some of the prototype solutions to these challenges could well be commercialised through Activator, RMIT’s accelerator programme to help researchers, students and alumni kickstart their own businesses.

“It was a deliberate move on my part to host the CIC within Activator, so as the challenges become open, they can give rise to a whole bunch of ideas that will be nested in a broader ecosystem,” said Bean.

Peter Moore, regional managing director for Asia-Pacific at AWS worldwide public sector, said the CIC would also expose RMIT students and staff to the “secret sauce” that has made AWS successful, which often starts with envisioning the outcome of an idea and working backwards to achieve it.

According to the Australian government’s 2020 cyber security strategy discussion paper, cyber crime affected one in three Australian adults in 2018, with cyber security incidents costing Australian businesses up to A$29bn every year.

The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network’s cyber security sector competitiveness plan also highlighted Australia’s skills shortage, with an additional 17,600 skilled cyber security professionals required by 2026. The report said the cyber security skills gap in Australia is currently costing the nation more than A$400m in annual revenue.

RMIT’s latest partnership with AWS comes on the heels of its recent move to offer the AWS Cloud Practitioner and AWS Cloud Architect online courses, delivered through hands-on lab sessions and project work over six weeks.

Helen Souness, CEO of RMIT Online, said the launch of the courses was a positive continuation of the university’s tech-led approach to creating academic and industry credentialed courses to meet the demand for skills that businesses want.

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