Lee Patterson has lived an expat life from the start. Born in the UK, as a child he lived in Canada and New Zealand before his family settled in Perth.
Throughout his career, he’s held IT and cyber security roles with multinational corporations in London and Asia and after many years away, made the move back to Perth to take up a role leading UWA’s new cyber security team.
“When the position came up at the end of 2016 it was the perfect opportunity to bring my family back to Perth. After over 20 years living in big cities, Perth’s lifestyle was very appealing.
“It was also time for a new challenge. I’d been working in the financial sector for the majority of my career, so moving to higher education was a push out of my comfort zone in a good way,” he says.
The need to establish a cyber security team at the University won’t come as a surprise. Cyber attacks are more prevalent now than ever and universities present an attractive target.
“Universities hold and store such a lot of data including student and staff information, medical and financial records and confidential research. This rich concentration is very enticing to groups looking to steal business information.
“What I like about cyber security is that it’s a never ending puzzle. The bad guys are constantly developing new attack techniques and as a result we need to stay on our toes and continue to create innovative new ways to protect our online assets. It’s an exciting industry that is constantly evolving.
“Compared to my previous banking experience, a university has different challenges to overcome. At a bank, practices are highly regulated with a high degree of uniformity. Whereas a uiversity is a diverse environment with many different requirements where there is no one size fits all,” he says.
Lee says it’s important that staff and students are given the tools and education they need to stay cyber safe at work and at home.
“Technology plays an important role in helping protect the University’s data, however our people are our first line of defence. It’s important we equip staff and students with the knowledge they need to be able to identify threats and protect the University,” he says.
With this in mind, Lee and his team are rolling out a cyber security campaign this year focused on raising awareness of cyber threats and risks.
There are many ways people can stay safe online but Lee’s top tip is about the passwords we use.
“Use a strong password that is at least 10 characters with a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. Weak passwords are easy for criminals to guess and the easiest way to gain access to your accounts and data.
“While it’s temping, avoid using the same password for all of your online accounts. It may seem the best way to remember your login but doing this makes it easier for your accounts to be hacked.”
For more information you can visit the Cyber Security website. Lee and his team are also conducting cyber security workshops around the University and you can contact him if you’d like to book one in for your team.