Action needed to boost cyber security in regional Australia

AISA caught up with member and academic Tanveer Zia to get his insights on working in infosec outside the capital cities, and the cybercrime issues faced in the regions.

  • By Nick Moore

A LACK of networking opportunities was one of the top challenges of working in cyber security in regional Australia, Wagga Wagga-based university professor Tanveer Zia told AISA.

“For example, when I joined AISA back in 2011, I used to drive to Canberra from Wagga, 300km one way, to attend member meetings.

“There are also not many cyber organisations with a physical presence in regional areas.

“This limits the opportunities for our cyber graduates for internships and work placements,” said Professor Zia, who is Associate Head, School of Computing and Mathematics, at Charles Sturt University, in the NSW Riverina town 455km southwest of Sydney.


The elderly were also disadvantaged in the regions, Professor Zia said.

“Regional areas tend to have a larger number of senior citizens. This group of the population grew up at a time when cyber didn’t have much influence in an ordinary person's life.

“This is also evident from ScamWatch statistics that the elderly more prone to cyberattacks.  For example, the financial losses from remote access scams in November 2020 accounts for over $1.5 million compared with November 2019 when it was less than half a million and the majority of the victims are over 65 years old.”

Business at risk

When it came to business risk, there existed a divide outside the capital cities, said Professor Zia, who has an academic focus on security for wireless networks and the Internet of Things.

“Cyber-security processes in larger organisations with a presence in regional areas are very much managed by their head offices in cities and are comparatively secure.

“It is the small and medium organisations that have less cyber-security budgets that are often victims of cyberattacks.”

Boost needed

As the coronavirus restrictions had accelerated the ongoing shift to digital, more would need to be done to improve cyber security and safety, said Professor Zia, who has a research emphasis on the security of low-powered devices such as wireless sensor and body area networks.   

"From the covid-19 pandemic, we have learned that there will be more services that will shift to being predominantly digital and online.  Hence the cyberattacks are going to increase.

“I foresee there will be more need for cyber solutions in regional areas to provide awareness and protection against cyberattacks to small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals.”


Cyberattacks targeting the elderly were going to become bigger and more damaging, he said.

“Organizations such as AISA can play a vital role in encouraging its regional based members to get engaged with organisations and individuals at risk and educate them about cyber hygiene.

Charles Sturt Girls in Cyber Security Advancing (GiCSA) program has contributed to achieving this goal.  Part of the program was educating the young girls to talk to the elderly and people with diversity and educate them about cyber threats.”

GiCSA was named the Best STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Promoter of the Year in the 2020 AISA Awards.

TANVEER ZIA: “I foresee there will be more need for cyber solutions in regional areas to provide awareness and protection against cyberattacks."