Meet Our Smartest Student Ever
Wow! Just before Christmas at the 2014 Graduation at Wagga Wagga, I had the pleasure of catching up with Melissa Comerford who won the 2014 prize for the best Grade Point Average (GPA) in the Master of Information Systems Security. Melissa came into the Masters with an impressive array of IT Industry certifications which gave her 5 subjects of credit. With only seven remaining subjects to finish her Masters, Melissa achieved an amazing 6 High Distinctions (over 85%) and a perfect GPA of 7 out of 7.
Adjunct Senior Lecturer (Charles Sturt University)
Chief Executive Officer (IT Masters Pty Ltd)
In this edition
- Master of Information Systems Security Prize Winner – Melissa Comerford
- Who Says Cyber Law Has To Be Boring?
- Join us for a Webinar on our MBA and MBA (Computing) Courses
Master of Information Systems Security Prize Winner – Melissa Comerford
Q: Can you give a description of your current job?
I currently work as the Manager Information Security for a NSW state government agency and lead a small team of security and records system specialists. This is a challenging role where my day to day tasks can range from technical systems administration, security policy, vulnerability identification and assessment to identity management, incident resolution and technical design and advice. Having brought the state of security within the organisation up to ISO27001 certification level also involves a large amount of work in strategy and risk management, senior executive stakeholder engagement, and managing and monitoring compliance and controls.
Q: Which subjects did you find the most rewarding?
I can’t pick a single subject as I enjoyed all of them in some way, but my top 3 would have to be Forensics, Unix admin and Risk. The Forensics subject was technically challenging, very engaging and provided a wealth of practical insight into the challenges faced in the real world. Risk Management challenged my thinking and helped me reframe my whole approach to assessing and managing information risk in my work. The Unix administration subject let my inner geek come back out to play and gave me confidence to put a range of new skills to practical use in my job.
Q: Has the course had any effect on your career path?
There are a couple of clear benefits from my perspective – Having a relevant and quality degree ensures that I can be considered for roles where tertiary education is a requirement and it supports my plans to continue to work in the security field in increasingly challenging and senior roles. From a work perspective, my success in study has gained me recognition from senior executives and at a personal level, choosing to focus on Information Security for the degree has re-affirmed that I have the right skills and knowledge and has certainly energised me to continue working in the security field.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in completing your study?
Once I got over the shock to the system of studying again, achieving the work / life/ study balance was the biggest challenge for both me and my family. Setting a routine for study and trying to reserve time for ‘a life’ and family was difficult at first but seems to be just another skill you learn and hopefully get a little better at through the duration of the course. I won’t say that studying didn’t come without sacrifices but with self-discipline and understanding from family and work the end reward is well worth it.
Q: What drove you to achieve such outstanding results?
Whilst I do set myself high standards and I am passionate about IT and security, I honestly did not set out to do so well. In hindsight I think that my technical experience across a broad range of IT services from operational, architecture, governance and security also made it easier for me to relate to the subject material. I think one of the keys to my success studying and working at the same time was definitely time management. As simple as it sounds, planning not to do things at the last minute makes a big difference in the quality of the work you submit. Having enjoyed the study and doing so well, I am also considering taking on the challenge of further research in the security field and completing a doctorate (after a break).
Q: What prompted you to decide to study at CSU?
When I began my career in the IT industry I was studying a computer science degree however the options for part time learning back then were very limited and it was just not feasible to both study and work full time. Despite 20 years’ experience in IT and a range of industry credentials, I still felt that my career options may be limited without a degree. The CSU offering of study by distance education dedicated to the Information Security field was highly attractive and well recommended by colleagues. The balance of the degree in regards to academic study and industry credentials was one of the key decision points as it made the daunting prospect of committing to so much academic study just that little bit less daunting.
Melissa Comerford 2014 prizewinner for the best GPA in the Master of IS Security.
Who Says Cyber Law Has To Be Boring
Welcome to Brad Deacon who joined us last session to run our ITE525 Cyber Law subject which is part of the Master of Information Systems Security. Brad is a former Australian Federal Agent with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) where he specialised in Computer Crime and Transnational Crime investigating terrorist financing & international money laundering cases in the Asia Pacific region. He was one of the inaugural members of the AFP’s Eastern Region (Sydney) Computer Crime team and was involved in Australia’s successful computer hacking case that resulted in the jail sentence being imposed on a hacker who had hacked AUSNet and several other ISP’s systems.
Cyber Law can be pretty dry but as per the example below, Brad is doing a great job of engaging his students by relating the subject content to real life cases:
Now the major paper is out of the way we have a timely live exercise that is very relevant to cyber law. Every business is susceptible to Cyber Attack and also Cyber Abuse. Our topic for tonight’s Webinar is Cyber Abuse and the live exercise will be the case that I have posted to the forum.
This will really test your research skills with regards to cyber abuse, knowledge of past topics we have covered and what we discuss this evening. Please engage in this forum post as it is an issue all businesses will face in the digital age and as they embrace social media.
The questions we will answer will include:
- What legislation is applicable to such an ambush in a nature that damages a business or harasses/threats?
- What measures would you use to protect the business?
- What would you do to try and identify the suspects?
- What police agency would you refer this too?
Join Us For A Webinar On Our MBA and MBA (Computing) Courses
Find out how CSU’s MBA or MBA (Computing) can make a sustained difference to your career by attending our Webinar. The University Course Directors will discuss how the course can benefit you by explaining the course structure, the advantages of online study, and the potential transformative role that further education can play in both your professional and personal development.
Make sure you are informed by registering today.
Title: MBA / MBA (Computing) Webinar
Date: Thursday 5 February 2015
Time: 7:30pm – 8:30pm AEST (you can view a recording if you can’t make the live event)
Click here to find the recording http://www.csu.edu.au/contacts/webinar-request
What impact will the Abbott government higher-education reforms have on my fees?
We have had a number of potential students say that they are concerned about fee rises if or when the Pyne higher education reform bill passes through the Senate. We are not sure what impact this might have on future fees but let me assure you that it will not affect your fees if you are already enrolled as your fees are frozen except for CPI increases.
Can I do a Master’s degree without having to first complete a Bachelor degree?
Yes – provided you have sufficient relevant industry experience you can bypass having to complete your Bachelor degree and do your Master’s degree via one of our industry pathways.
Spend 5 minutes filling out our Eligibility Form and we will advise you on how to get started and how much credit you may be eligible for.
Can I get credit for industry certifications or previous studies?
Yes – we recognise most of the mainstream industry certifications. You can also get credit if you have studied a Post Graduate subject that aligns with 80% of the subject that you are requesting credit for.
Can I get refund if I have to withdraw after starting a Masters?
Yes – you have up until 4 weeks into each subject to withdraw and receive a refund of your fees. So – if you would like to do your Master degree but are unsure how you will cope I suggest you enrol, start with studying a single subject and then pull out if it is not working for you.