$1 million in cyber skills to stop $100 million in cybercrime

A Swinburne-led program has received more than $1 million in federal funding to build cybersecurity and digital transformation skills in the next generation of manufacturing professionals as part of the CSIRO’s Data 61 Next Generation Emerging Technologies Graduates Program.

The CSIRO-funded program – Building National Cybersecurity Capabilities for Digital Transformation in Manufacturing – will help build Australian sovereign cyber capabilities to secure business-critical manufacturing systems and bring together a multidisciplinary team to train next generation graduate students within industry.

Cyber incidents are now a regular and high risk threat in the manufacturing sector, regardless of where a company is located across the globe, as seen with the US Colonial Pipeline hacking crisis, $11 million ransomware attack on beef supplier JBS and the $100 million ransomware loss from food manufacturing company Mondelez.

Driven by the real-life needs of Swinburne’s industry partners, including DXC, Amazon, ASTA and Sysbox, the university has set out to address the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in manufacturing software, data flow analysis for security in smart manufacturing, data driven control system assessment, and secure and responsible AI for manufacturing.

The student intake will be mentored by 17 industry and academic investigators from eight committed organisations: Swinburne University of Technology, Monash University, UNSW ADFA and James Cook University, together with partner organisations DXC, Amazon, ASTA and Sysbox, who are contributing an additional $600,000 to the CSIRO funding.

Chief Investigator on the project and Swinburne’s Dean of Digital Research, Professor Yang Xiang, says critical infrastructure is always the target of cyber-attacks.

“It is important that the next generation across all industries, including manufacturing, are skilled in cybersecurity – including network and system security, data analytics, AI, blockchain, distributed systems and networking. Soft skills and cybersecurity awareness will also be a focus for the next generation graduates,” says Professor Yang.

“Beyond cybersecurity, students will learn to innovate. Digital transformation is rapidly evolving in the 21st century, and Swinburne positions students to drive the next generation of technology and how technology and people work together to build a better world.”

The collaboration will bring together research strengths across Australian universities and industrial expertise such as manufacturing, cybersecurity, human interaction, software engineering, entrepreneurship and commercialisation.

Swinburne’s research team will contribute both tech-rich facilities and leading expertise in digital transformation and manufacturing. Students from diverse backgrounds will collaborate in teams to develop their skills and experience alongside industry organisations.

Building National Cybersecurity Capabilities for Digital Transformation in Manufacturing is led by Swinburne expert in cybersecurity, data science and blockchain, Professor Yang Xiang.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Karen Hapgood says, “CSIRO is a highly valued partner for Swinburne University of Technology and we are thrilled to see this project supported by the Next Generation Emerging Technologies Graduates Program.

“The project brings together Swinburne’s research expertise in digital transformation and manufacturing, as well as our strengths in work integrated learning and graduate employability.”

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