How easy is it to hack a password?


This term, our secondary school’s senior leadership teams embarked on a stimulating behind-the-scenes day out with the captivating theme: “Cyber Sleuths: Defend, Detect, Conquer!” With the rapid evolution of technology and the growing importance of cybersecurity, this theme aimed to spotlight critical career pathways. To learn more the group visited three companies leading in this area: Stratus Blue, Westpac Tauranga, and Tauranga City Council. Here’s a glimpse into the invaluable insights gained.

Stratus Blue: Navigating the digital landscape

Our first stop was at Stratus Blue, where we were warmly welcomed by Chief Operating Officer Kate Murdoch and Sales and Marketing Manager Jacob Doherty. As a proudly New Zealand-owned and operated company, Stratus Blue provided us with an in-depth look into the cutting-edge world of technology solutions and customer service.

Kate and Jacob shared staggering statistics with us, revealing that scams had cost the global economy $13 trillion in the past year alone. We were told the most common passwords are, ‘password’ and ‘password123’ and they strongly emphasised the importance of proper cybersecurity measures, offering practical advice such as using long passwords of 32 characters or more. Passwords that are made up or phrases, characters and numbers and aren’t obvious. And lastly enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect personal and professional data.

Furthermore, they guided us through various study options and key attributes necessary for a successful career in cybersecurity. The session concluded with a thought-provoking exercise where we tested the security of our own systems, making us acutely aware of potential vulnerabilities.

Westpac Tauranga: Building careers in cybersecurity

Next, we headed to Westpac Tauranga, hosted by Area Commercial Manager Claire Basire. The session began with introductions to a group of their staff, highlighting the diverse career opportunities available at Westpac who are known for nurturing talent and fostering passions. Westpac offers graduate programs, scholarships, and even opportunities to work globally.

With cybersecurity as the focal point, the team at Westpac introduced us to various roles that support this critical area. We engaged in an interactive scamming game, confronting real-life scenarios that highlighted the challenges and importance of cybersecurity in the banking sector.

Hearing from Susan Grey, Regional Manager of Consumer Banking, a seasoned professional and ex Otumoetai College student. Susan began her career at Westpac thirty-years ago straight from school. Erica Devoy, Westpac Home Loan Expert and ex Te Puke High School student shared her journey from school to leadership. Both women’s stories underscored the potential for growth and development within the organisation.

Tauranga City Council: Safeguarding the digital world

Our final destination was the Tauranga City Council, where Geoff Barnard, Head of Security & Assurance, and Cheryl Pome’e, Digital Security Lead & AI Owner, explained the many reasons to pursue a career in cybersecurity. They highlighted the high demand and job security, the opportunity to contribute to a safer digital world, and the exciting, challenging nature of the work.

With over 80,000 thwarted cyber attacks this past year on the council assets alone. The team stressed the importance of continuous learning and growth in this field, along with the competitive salaries and sort after career opportunities they offer. They outlined essential skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, policy development, and research. Additionally, they provided us with a list of tech skills crucial for advancing in cybersecurity, including basic IT troubleshooting, understanding operating systems, command line and scripting, networking topologies, and protocols.

This senior leadership day out was not only educational but also thought provoking. The consistent message of using long passwords and 2FA resonated with the group, underscoring the importance of vigilance in the digital age. We left with a newfound appreciation for the dynamic field of cybersecurity and the myriad of opportunities it presents.

As cyber threats are more pervasive and ever-present, our experiences at Stratus Blue, Westpac Tauranga, and Tauranga City Council have equipped us with knowledge and insights to navigate the digital landscape confidently. This day out truly exemplified the theme of “Cyber Sleuths: Defend, Detect, Conquer!” and has motivated the leadership teams to feed back to their students the pathways and considerations for making cybersecurity an exciting career path.