University of Canberra (UC) and global technology company Cisco have teamed up to improve Australia’s cybersecurity resilience.
With a significant focus on Defence and critical infrastructure, the partnership will look to address the country’s most pressing cybersecurity concerns, including addressing the skills shortage, securing Australia’s critical infrastructure and expanding the National Industry Innovation Network (NIIN).
The announcement comes in the wake of mounting nationwide cybersecurity concerns, which UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon says is creating a “major challenge for us at every level”.
“There is enormous scope for Australia to improve its resilience against cyber-attacks, including the use of advanced digital technologies,” he said.
The partnership includes the establishment of Innovation Central Canberra, a hub for industry and government to validate cybersecurity technologies, develop prototypes and remove risk from the adoption process.
It is the sixth in a national network of Cisco innovation centres co-located on university campuses – an arrangement that UC Science and Technology Executive Dean Janine Deakin said makes complete sense.
“We have the researchers coming up with the latest, greatest ideas and the chance to partner with industry,” she said.
“Having that in the same environment sparks real innovation.
“In particular, we’re really trying to achieve innovation around cybersecurity in Defence, critical infrastructure research, to connect to industry partners and come up with innovative ideas for solving some of the real world issues we have at the moment.”
The partnership also comprises the creation of a joint Research Chair in Critical Infrastructure and Defence, focusing on applied cybersecurity research across several industries, including Defence.
In addition, Cisco will expand its Networking Academy to the UC, providing learning curricula for careers in technology, including cybersecurity.
Ms Deakin said cybersecurity was “absolutely” an area of increasing significance nationwide.
“You just have to look at the recent breaches [with Optus and Medibank] to see this,” she said.
“There has been a tech boom and infrastructure hasn’t caught up so it’s an easy target.
“We need to protect ourselves, and often, the weak link is not the technology, it’s the human using it.”
She added that demand for expertise in this area was far outstripping supply.
“We have a lot of industry coming to us desperate to get cybersecurity talent into their pipelines,” she said.
As part of the partnership, the University of Canberra and Innovation Central Canberra will join the National Industry Innovation Network, an alliance between industry and universities that aims to realise digital opportunities that benefit Australians.
Cisco Networking Academy is a powerful skills-to-jobs global IT and cybersecurity education program that provides the best tools and resources to help students develop in-demand industry skills and connect with peers, mentors and real jobs.
Cisco ANZ Vice President Ben Dawson said the company was investing in “strategic partnerships with universities to accelerate the adoption of technology and address major risks to the Australian economy and society”.
“The focus on cybersecurity recognises that protection of data and infrastructure needs to be a national priority,” he said.
“It also acknowledges the important role that Canberra plays from a cybersecurity policy, skills and operations perspective, including in Defence and national security.”