A new project, led by Monash University researchers in collaboration with Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC), aims to train organisations across the Indo-Pacific region to help safeguard against emerging cybersecurity threats. The researchers are looking for cybersecurity and information technology (IT) focussed participants from 11 Indo-Pacific nations to receive free training in advanced cryptography that can help protect against threats from quantum computers.

Over the next three years, the Post-Quantum Cryptography in the Indo-Pacific Program (PQCIP) aims to work with organisations and government bodies across Malaysia, Indonesia, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Tuvalu, the Cook Islands and Nauru.

Project Director Associate Professor Ron Steinfeld from Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology said encryption is one of the key safeguards against data breaches. “However, most currently deployed cryptography is not strong enough against attacks from large scale quantum computers, which can rapidly decrypt most of today’s encrypted data, and we expect such computers to become a reality over the coming years,” Steinfeld said. “Recently, we have seen a huge increase in cyberattacks and data leaks. It is critically important now to help neighbouring countries strengthen their capabilities to withstand existing cyber threats while also preparing for the next generation of attacks.”

Through the PQCIP, cybersecurity experts from Monash and OCSC will take participating organisations and government entities through a cycle of detailed assessment of their current post-quantum cybersecurity capabilities, tailored education, planning and cyber threat evaluation.

OCSC Head of Research and Capacity Building Dr James Boorman said the program aims to leave participants with an advanced understanding of post-quantum cryptography, comprehensive knowledge of related tools, and develop their own transition plan to secure their organisations from quantum computing threats. “The training will be adapted to fit the local needs, be available online for reference after the course and free for anyone managing or working in IT or cybersecurity within most government entities (excluding military, intelligence, or law-enforcement) or organisations in any of the 11 countries,”  Boorman said. “We are keen to hear from anyone interested in building these capabilities. Collaboratively standardising and enhancing cybersecurity within these countries will result in stronger relationships and data protection across the entire region.”

The PQCIP is funded by the United States Department of State and all components of the program will be available to identified participants free of charge.

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