USP Alumni Network

Securing information in cyberspace

While the internet gives us the world at our finger tips, we have to exercise caution.

Meet Jeff Garae, a PhD cyber Security student at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Originally from Vanuatu, Jeff completed his undergraduate degree with USP in 2010 majoring in Computer Science and Information Science.

“USP has helped me in many ways and areas but most importantly USP has exposed me to the outside world, allowing me to think ‘outside-the-box’, which made me believe in myself, think positive and work hard to reach my goals”, Garae explains.
Since graduating from USP, Garae worked as a Network administrator and later as a Technical Manager in a Private IT firm in Vanuatu. His career highlights to date include co-founding two different ICT Start-ups and being a member of the Small-Holder Business Advisory Group with the Vanuatu Telecommunications and Radio-communications Regulator (TRR) Office.  

However, Garae’s interest lies in cyber security. “My interest in cyber security started while being in the ICT industry and seeing first-hand the large number of users being lured into phishing attacks just because of a lack of knowledge, unsecured network systems, and most of all just being careless and handing over their credentials to attackers.  I started reading up on cyber security and cyber-crime related issues and realized that there is a need in the ICT industry and especially in Vanuatu and the Pacific for cyber security, so I decided to pursue further studies in this field,” he said.

Thanks to a scholarship from the New Zealand and Pacific Aid (NZAid), Garae was able to complete a postgraduate diploma in Computer Science in 2013 and a Master of Cyber Security (MCS) in 2015 from the University of Waikato.  Garae in now working on his PhD at the University of Waikato.

A quick interest search will show that cyber security is important to everyone. We use the internet everyday, from communicating via email and instant message to traveling, banking and shopping, nearly every aspect of our life revolves around the cyber world. Because the Internet is so widely used, protecting vital information in the cyber world is our responsibility.

With the threat of hackers, malicious attacks, virus and even identity theft, cyber security is important not only for businesses and government but at home as well especially for individual users.

According to Garae, changing your password often, applying regular patches, upgrading your anti-virus software, logging off social media, and surfing the internet smarter by being watchful with which sites you are visiting and how much information you are revealing about yourself are some of the necessary steps you should take that could help reduce being a victim of cyber threats/attacks. However Educational Awareness in the field of Cyber Security is a good place to begin. This way, you are not only securing your computer but your personal information as well.

“In terms of cyber security education, I hope to give back to Vanuatu with the resources that are available like help existing working group to provide cyber security awareness to schools, and communities via visitation to schools and the use of social media, media, websites, and blogs. With regards to the government and industries, I hope to engage with international countries and organizations such as the INTERPOL will be a good start. I guess in the future, Vanuatu and the pacific needs a 'Cyber Security Research and Development Hub' to address cyber security related activities. This  is an area I hope to contribute to since the ICT infrastructures would be more susceptible to cyber threats and attacks now that Pacific Islands Countries are connecting via submarine cables”.

Ultimately, Garae hopes to give back to the Vanuatu government and community by becoming a cyber security expert advising the Vanuatu government and the region.

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Page updated: Thursday, July 23, 2020
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