UQ Students’ cyber skills a cut above the rest

16 Sep 2019

Cyber security professionals are in high demand across Australia and the need for expertise is growing, with an estimated 18,000 new positions to be filled over the next seven years.

Protecting fundamental human rights, such as the right to privacy and freedom of speech, led University of Queensland honours student Tim Kallioinen to consider a career path in cyber security.

“As people increasingly incorporate technology into daily life, cyber security becomes the primary mechanism to protect these human rights,” he said.

Tim teamed up with second year IT student Haoxi Tan to take part in a national cyber security challenge, known as the Pwn2Drone Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenge at the 2019 AusCERT conference.

Equipped with the appropriate knowledge, skillset and plenty of practice, the pair managed to secure first place, showcasing their abilities to a room filled with industry leaders.

“The Pwn2Drone CTF is an emulated internet of things ‘smart city’ for challengers to break into, which has several stages and layers of firewalls to pivot through,” Haoxi said.

“It specifically includes a Drupal web server, a vulnerable Microsoft Database server and an engineer workstation that has to be compromised before being able to wreak havoc on the city.

“We couldn’t complete the entire challenge, but we progressed further than any other team.

“Overall, it was an amazing opportunity to test our skills against the standard of the industry.”

UQ Student receiving award

For Haoxi, it was an interest in the mechanisms and implications of cyber space as a new domain of warfare that drew him to explore the possibilities of a career in cyber security.

“What interests me about cyber security is looking under the hood of how things work, as to properly attack or secure a system, one often has to understand it even better than its creator and from a completely different angle,” he said.

The pair both regularly put their skills to the test at a weekly cyber exploitation boot camp on campus at UQ, known as the Dead Beef Society.

 UQ’s Chair and Director of Cyber Security, Professor Ryan Ko said he was incredibly proud to see the student’s success and passion for the field grow.

“It was fantastic to see Tim and Haoxi represent UQ and to see them go further in the challenge than any other team,” Professor Ko said.

“We know that cyber security jobs are fast becoming the highest-paying jobs in the IT sector, and having experience working in the area before students have even graduated will make them very attractive to a huge range of international organisations.”

UQ launched the most comprehensive Master of Cyber Security program in Australia earlier this month.

For more information about the Master of Cyber Security, please visit the UQ Future Students website.