Australia under cyber attack

By Ritesh Chugh, CQUniversity’s information systems expert

Dr Ritesh Chugh

As I write this, Australia is under a cyber attack and the enormity of it can be assessed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeing the need to urgently call a press conference. While we know that Australia (and other nations) are subject to cyber-attacks regularly, it is concerning that this large-scale attack is “targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of Government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure.”

The PM also said a sophisticated, state-based cyber actor is involved because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the tradecraft used. Hence, this could also be seen as an act of cyber warfare.

“… this could also be seen as an act of cyber warfare.”

The Australian Cyber Security Centre attributes the attack to ‘Copy-paste compromises’, in which a malicious actor exploits public-facing infrastructure to target networks and looks for vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the state-based cyber actor utilised spear phishing in which malicious emails are sent to specific targets.

For the general public, the advice is to be extra vigilant, check every email-transmitted file you open even if it appears to be coming from a trusted source and update to the latest version of protection software that blocks viruses, ransomware, spyware, key stroke loggers and so forth.

For organisations, the advice is to patch their Internet-facing infrastructure, update operating systems, secure hardware by changing passwords, back up all data, and use multi-factor authentication. It also is important that organisations (whether they have been attacked or not) communicate with their staff to apprise them of the situation and the defences they have in place to mitigate such cyber attacks.

“Such malicious cyber activity not only has an impact on our national security but portrays Australia in a weak light globally.”

Such malicious cyber activity not only has an impact on our national security but portrays Australia in a weak light globally. The impact of this cyber-attack on organisations and the general public will only become clearer in the upcoming days.

Finally, as such cyber-attacks are increasing in frequency, it is critical the Australian Government takes a robust approach towards its cyber defence. Cyber attacks should not become political weapons.

ATAR and me: A new relationship

By Chilli Crawford, a Rockhampton-based 2020 Year 12 student

As a Queensland student moving into Year 12 in 2020 – staring down the barrel of my QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education – the HSC and VCE equivalent), finishing school and applying for university – the ATAR system came as a very daunting surprise. When my fellow Year 11 cohort and I were told of the complete renovation of the old OP system and that we were the pioneers (or rather guinea pigs) for the new ATAR system, we were all extremely hesitant. Although the ATAR system made the grading scales much fairer between public and private schools, the influx of self-learning and teaching immediately displeased us as we felt as if we were already stressed and overworked as it was. However, in hindsight, the issues and complaints we expressed simply sprouted from a fear of change. As throughout my current and ongoing experience with ATAR, I have found that whilst there is now a significant amount of self-management placed on me, the system and marking criteria is ultimately quite beneficial.

Continue reading ATAR and me: A new relationship

Researchers facing the media

By Alex Russell, CQUni researcher and Radio National ABC Science Top 5 Scientists for 2019

Do you have a great research finding, and want to spread the word? Are you interested in working with media, including radio, television and online?

I’ve done a fair bit of media over the last few years, and I was one of the Radio National ABC Science Top 5 Scientists for 2019, which involved intensive media training.

Here’s a Q and A, followed by some of my top tips for working with the media.

Continue reading Researchers facing the media

Can makeup be more than a beauty treatment?

CQUniversity’s simulation experts have been using the art of moulage to train its nurses and paramedic students to deal with a variety of injuries.

Moulage is the art of using makeup and special effects products to create realistic-looking injuries on simulated patients.

It’s a technique that is helping hundreds of CQUni students learn how to respond to graphic injuries that would otherwise be very difficult to learn about without a real on-the-job experience.

CQUni’s simulated patients are often other students or community volunteers who give us their time to be ‘made up’ and play a character in a set scenario.

Here’s just some of great work produced by our moulage artists.

Understanding NAIDOC Week

By Malcolm Mann (Darumbal), Leonie Taylor (Djaku-nde & Birri Gubba), Melody Muscat (Bidjara) and Melinda Mann (Darumbal)

NAIDOC began in the 1920-30s and its evolution has shaped our national conversations. However, it’s about a coming together around a range of celebratory activities. These activities traditionally span a week or in some communities can span a month or more. NAIDOC Week is an invitation or an opportunity for the wider Australian community to ‘get-to-know’ and begin to understand and or strengthen their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Continue reading Understanding NAIDOC Week

Growing up in my own Indigenous world

An extract from CQUni’s Greatvine podcast interview with Melinda Mann.

I grew up in different parts of Queensland and New South Wales. And so when I think about where I grew up, I see that through an Aboriginal lens. I was born on Yugara Country and then not long after I was born, moved back to Darumbal Country where my family are from. We spent a little bit of time, in a small town on Yuwi Country, which is in the Mackay region. I was almost turning 10 when we moved to New South Wales where I lived on Wiradjuri and Barkindji Country until we returned back to Darumbal Country when I was 16. So, my memories of my childhood are surrounded by family and it being a very Indigenous world for me. I didn’t know that back then. That was just my world that I lived in. It was such a beautiful time.

We grew up hunting and fishing and cooking and learning how to do all that from my parents and my grandparents and lots of aunties and uncles that I grew up with or grew up around, and listening and learning from Elders. There was always an Elder around us. We were always either sitting and listening to Elders talking and sharing stories, or we were serving them. We were bringing them teas and coffees and making food for them. My childhood was very much an Indigenous one … even though I went to school with lots of non-Indigenous people.

I grew up in small country towns and then went to larger schools in larger regional towns, but was always surrounded by Indigenous people. And it was when I moved to New South Wales, I realised how the Aboriginal thing kind of works. There are different mobs and the Wiradjuri mob was different to us and Barkindji mob was different to Wiradjuri people.

That was the start of my curiosity about what it meant to be Aboriginal. My childhood was just really a rich cultural experience. I grew up with lots of family, lots of other Aboriginal people from other groups. I didn’t know at that point in my life as a young person that I wasn’t just Aboriginal, I was also a South Sea Islander and those South Sea Islander roots being from Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I started to learn more about what it meant to be a South Sea Islander. When we moved back to Rockhampton I began learning more about how Aboriginal and South Sea Islander people have inter-married and reasons for inter-marriage all the way through the east coast of Queensland and top of New South Wales.

“My childhood was very much an Indigenous one…”

I think going to small rural schools was a highlight. Allowed me to form really good friendships with children from farmers and property owners. Everyone had their own different connection to Country. I loved it. I loved being able to run around barefoot. And everybody in the school was connected in some way, they were relatives or our parents worked together, so everyone knew each other.

I think I developed a bit of competitiveness in high school because I belonged to a family that was quite good at athletics and art. We had great representation of Indigenous people as students excelling in those areas. I’m not an athlete and I’m not an artist, but I loved reading and writing and the academic side of things. So I became quite competitive in that. I think it was my way of realising that Indigenous people could also contribute intellectually and to have a voice intellectually and be visible intellectually as well.

Melinda Mann was the first in her family to go to university and has recently completed a PhD, looking at the way Indigenous people transition from high school into work or further study. Melinda is currently CQUni’s Deputy Director for Student Life and Wellbeing.

Catch up on episodes from our previous Greatvine podcast series here.

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