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Hamza Sellak

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Fancy being the next James Bond with a career in cyber security? You might not get to drive an Aston Martin but you will help to protect our country and your fellow Aussies

Right now there’s a shortage of cyber security workers, which increases the risk of us getting hit by a cyber attack.

Australia’s cyber security growth network AustCyber says there were around 14,000 cyber security jobs up for grabs last year. To fill the gaps, governments and industry urgently need STEM-smart grads. Hamza Sellak, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CSIRO’s Data61, says it’s “a really exciting time to be at the forefront of local and global cyber security”.

“The world’s most valuable resource right now is data,” he says. Data61 is the digital specialist arm of our national science agency, CSIRO, so Hamza should know.

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Valuable info

“One of the top research topics in cyber security is how to balance utility and privacy,” he says. “You want the data but you also want to protect the privacy of individuals.”

Hamza’s work is on security involving wearables such as health and wellbeing gadgets.

“The data is really valuable as it can monitor performance and identify health issues, but users have no idea who controls it or can see it,” he says. “We are trying to give the user more control over their own data. Then they can decide how private they want to be.”

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Hamza is in the human-centric security team which focuses on strengthening cyber security by understanding human behaviour and perceptions.

Hamza is also working on making mobile health apps safer. There are thousands of these, focusing on everything from sleep to stress, but, “there is no control over them,” he says. “So we are devising a tool to make sure those services satisfy the minimum requirements needed in terms of cyber security.”

Leading the way

“This could be a first in the world,” says Hamza. “I haven’t seen anything like this available in open app stores.”

The work Hamza and his team do will help app developers be more cyber secure and make Australia cyber-safer. – Matthew Brace

Hamza’s study and career pathway

  • Master Of Science In Information Systems, Decision Science, Networks And Multimedia, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University
  • Phd In Computer Science, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes
  • CSIRO Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Human Centric Security, Data61

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data 2021.

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