14 July 2023

UOW Professor awarded prestigious fellowship to combat cybersecurity risks in the cloud

| Keeli Royle
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Distinguished Professor Willy Susilo at computer in the University of Wollongong.

Distinguished Professor Willy Susilo has been awarded the prestigious ARC Laureate Fellowship. Photo: UOW.

A University of Wollongong researcher could be the key to protecting the country from future cybersecurity threats after receiving a $3 million fellowship.

Distinguished Professor Willy Susilo will be investigating new and practical solutions to improve the security of personal data stored on the cloud.

The technology, which has skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade and been utilised by some of the world’s biggest organisations, allows users to access data through third-party services, rather than personal devices.

And although the feature has become widespread due to its ability to improve local storage, reduce IT costs, increase flexibility and reduce emissions, experts are increasingly concerned about the impacts on security and data access.

“Since 2006, when large companies like Google and Amazon first began using cloud computing to describe web-based access to software, computer power and files, my research has focused on cryptography and its applications in cloud security,” Professor Susilo said.

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The research by Professor Susilo and his team, which focuses on cryptography, could revolutionise cloud computing and position Australia as a global leader in innovative technologies.

“Cryptography is critical in protecting data and computing for confidentiality and integrity,” he said. “Current cryptography solutions are advanced but idealised and incompatible with existing cloud applications.”

The prestigious Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council aims to transform the theory that Professor Susilo has been working on into practice.

“At iC2 we have been conducting research in the area of cryptology for more than 30 years, and this fellowship is a testament that the work that we are doing is at the forefront of this research field,” Professor Susilo said.

“This research fellowship will narrow the gap between theoretical cryptography and its applications in cloud computing. The project outcomes will be adoptable in practice to secure the cloud technology.”

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Cybersecurity continues to be at the forefront of the community’s mind, with millions impacted by major breaches such as that of Optus, Medibank Private and Latitude Financial. This new investment hopes to improve user trust when using cloud services.

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor David Currow said the work Professor Susilo and his team are undertaking is at the forefront of technological advancements, and the $3 million investment is a testament to its importance.

“The endorsement of the ARC through this Laureate Fellowship cements the value of the visionary research at iC2 and will bring about significant improvements to the way we all operate in the online world, the impacts of which we are just beginning to imagine.”

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