A former Ohope man is taking on cyber-crime by working with the International Criminal Police Organisation - Interpol - in Singapore.

Waikato University masters student and former Ohope resident Shaun Stricot-Tarboton was awarded a 2015 Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia and is spending three months in Singapore on an internship with Interpol's Global Complex for Innovation (GCI) in its cybercrime division.

Mr Stricot-Tarboton was encouraged to apply by staff at the university's CyberCROW (Cybersecurity Researchers of Waikato). He's carrying out extended research into attack classification, which slots in nicely with his Waikato masters research.

"The most interesting aspect of my research so far is the sheer quantity of attacks that have occurred in the past year," he said.


In 12 months 34.2 per cent of 3.2 billion internet users' computers were subject to at least one web attack.

"Kaspersky (internet security) reportedly blocked 798,113,087 attacks from online sources, roughly 25 per cent of the users if each one was attacked once. This leaves approximately 10 per cent, or 320,000,000, known successful attacks, and an even larger number of unreported or undetected attacks.

"I would say as a society, myself included, we are of the notion that we are a single person among billions, and that cyber-criminals would not possibly target us as we have nothing of exceptional value stored online," he said.

"But anyone who pays attention to cyber-crime and cyber security will come to the scary realisation that unless you are prepared to lose everything, from your precious holiday photos to your identity, you are not prepared."

He said as a society we can choose to carry on in "blissful ignorance" of the capabilities of those who mean to do us harm, or do everything in our power to stay informed and protect our information.

His internship at Interpol will allow him to verify and validate his masters degree taxonomy (classification) of "man in the middle attacks" on supposed secure computer networks such as online banking services.

He's currently living in a youth hostel in the city and adapting to the rich and diverse nature of the place.

"Singapore is a lot greener than I expected. The hardest thing is getting used to the culture of buying hawker food for all my meals - it's so much cheaper than cooking for myself," he said.

His temporary home is a far cry from Ohope, which has been home to the American-born student for the past nine years. He attended Trident High School at Whakatane before going to Waikato University in 2011.