Kooringal High School student among winners in 2020 CSU cyber-security challenge | The Daily Advertiser | Wagga Wagga, NSW

Kooringal High School student among winners in 2020 CSU cyber-security challenge

WOMEN IN STEM: Scattered across the state, Maimuna Zaman, 15, from Kooringal High School and her team, devised a way to keep primary school students safe from online hackers and mercenaries. Picture: Les Smith

The next generation of cyber-security specialists has cleared the first hurdle into their careers, with the completion of a year-long intensive challenge.

Founded by Charles Sturt University’s Professor Tanveer Zia, the Girls in Cyber Security Advancing program introduced 137 female years 9 and 10 students from all over the country to the world of information connectivity.

Intended to be held in Wagga over three days this week, the final challenge was forced to migrate online.

Between Monday and Wednesday this week, the 16 top-performing students went head-to-head in teams to devise a solution to common cyber-security issues.

Kooringal High School year 10 student Maimuna Zaman took out the top prize with her team for an app that interactively teaches primary school students how to stay safe online.

“We proposed a game for 10 to 14-year-olds to teach them cyber-security, how to recognise malicious activity, and how to avoid it,” said the Wagga-based 15-year-old.

“We thought it’d be useful for younger generations to have those skills. Once they’ve got them, they’ll know it for life.

“Cyber-hackers look for ways to attack kids because they don’t know what to look for or really what they’re doing online.”

Until launching into the challenge on Monday, Maimuna and her fellow cyber-security geniuses had not met.

Since they were scattered all over the state, travel restrictions required that they work together via online video networking, which provided its own set of challenges.

“It was difficult at first, the internet was a problem and servers kept crashing,” Maimuna said.

“We just had to make the best of it.”

Aside from the team’s winning entry, Professor Zia told The Daily Advertiser he had been left pleased to see how each project was uniquely topical to the world right now.

“The five teams all addressed problems in cyber-security that are really spot on in the current environment,” he said.

One team developed a program to protect healthcare systems against hacking, another provided support for elderly people in the digital age.

“It was all very well-timed. The healthcare system really looked at how scams do target the health industry when it’s at capacity like it is right now dealing with COVID-19,” Professor Zia said.

“The cyber-cleaning and awareness [for the aged], well we know they are more likely to be targetted for attack and identity theft and that’s our senior citizens because they haven’t grown up in a technology age. It hasn’t been a part of their lives until now.

“Then the [winning team], from one extreme to the other dealt with the tech-savvy but vulnerable young people because they are innocent and don’t see the negative things technology can bring.”

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