The Australian newspaper recently reported cybercriminal activity is up more than 300 per cent on figures for the same period in 2019. There has also been a number of recent high-profile examples of cybercrime due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nilesh Makwana, ECU Business and Law graduate and CEO of illuminance Solutions is leading an international collaboration boosting security for Australia’s vulnerable non-profit sector by helping the sector defend itself against cybercrime.
“When we realised that with the coronavirus pandemic there was a spike in cyberattacks, we chose to act quickly to support the non-profit sector avoid successful scams and attempts,” Mr Makwana said.
Non-profits are easy targets as many do not have adequate systems in place and outdated technology, and with the sensitive data they are holding they are vulnerable to a potential cyber threat.
“Being a Tech for Social Impact Partner, deploying cyber security solutions for the most vulnerable in our society came naturally for us,” Mr Makwana explained.
After graduating from ECU in 2014 with a Master of Management Information Systems as an international student, Mr Makwana pivoted towards Enterprise Systems. “The degree from ECU has directly helped me build the business I run today, not only because of the units and course itself but also because of the connections I made throughout my studies (lecturers, staff and industry related events).“
illuminance Solutions is now a national firm, a Microsoft Gold Partner, and was recognised as Microsoft’s 2019 Partner of the Year for Social Impact and was awarded the Business News Rising Star Award for Diversity in 2019.
Mr Makwana shares the leadership of illuminance Solutions with business partner and fellow ECU alumnus Vincent Lam, Principal Consultant and ECU Bachelor of Science graduate. Mr Makwana and Mr Lam are proud of the diverse team they have built with age diversity and people with disabilities in addition to many different ethnicities and nationalities.
In addition to helping non-profits, illuminance also provides the opportunity for current students to gain practical experience while studying.
Mr Makwana and illuminance Solutions have engaged three current ECU students to work as Cyber Security Consultants on the project. The three students are also responsible for finding smaller non-profits that could benefit through ECU’s Cyber Check.Me program, run by Professor Craig Valli, Director of the ECU Security Research Institute.
“The students have made excellent contributions to the service we are offering. They are participating in the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program that runs for 12 weeks and it’s a great program that benefits both the students and businesses like mine,” says Mr Makwana.
The firm partnered with WA AustCyber Innovation Hub to utilise the Cyber Check.Me program, which was created by, and is managed through, the ECU Security Research Institute.
Dr Ian Martinus, Director of the WA AustCyber Innovation Hub, funded by the WA State Government’s New Industries Fund, said illuminance’s work with non-profit organisations provides the chance to spread the benefits of secure cyber practices even further into the Australian and global workforce.
“Engaging talented students is also a great way to grow Australia’s local cybersecurity workforce and to showcase the highly developed skill sets that graduates in WA possess in this specialist field. The WA AustCyber Innovation Hub promotes a model of ‘Partner, Build, Export’ – this type of collaboration has the potential to deliver on those themes,” says Dr Martinus.
illuminance Solutions is a Microsoft Gold Partner and a 2019 Microsoft Global Partner of the Year: Partner for Social Impact.