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Ellie Chapman

Eliza Chapman joined ASPI in July 2017 as a Research Intern. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Emmanuel College, Ga (USA). She has undertaken research in proanthocyanins and their impact on certain bacteria. While spending time abroad she became particularly interested in Australia-USA relations, and the implications on current and future security arrangements. Her research interests also include global inequality and human rights. Eliza intends to finish her Masters in International Relations at ANU next year. Eliza was interviewed for the WDSN in March, 2018. 

Tell us more about your interests and research areas:

My research interests are very broad! I was hoping that my internship at ASPI would help to narrow them down but alas, it has only worsened the problem! At the moment I am studying my Masters in International Relations at ANU so my head is full of Machiavelli, Thucydides and Morgenthau. My time living in the USA during my undergraduate studies also instigated a fascination with US domestic politics. I have a degree in Biology, so occasionally I like to geek out and read something really nerdy. Working in the Cyber Policy Centre at ASPI has also meant that I am well versed in the latest cyber scandals. I also devote a lot of my personal reading time to Theology, so you could say my research interests are fairly eclectic!

Your recently wrote a research report for ASPI on the Internet of Things (IoT). What motivated you to write on that topic?

When I first arrived at ASPI, I was invited to assist with research in the International Cyber Policy Centre. I didn’t have much of a background in cyber but was keen to learn, and found the idea of the IoT fascinating. The project had already been pitched to ASPI by our external sponsor, and I jumped at the chance to engage in this research. Eight months later I found myself presenting an issue paper on the topic. I was grateful to be given such a fantastic opportunity so early in my research career and couldn’t have done it without the incredible support from the cyber team. I found the IoT fascinating because it is an inescapable problem that implicates every person on the planet. Some of the IoT technology being developed is so exciting and worth celebrating and embracing. At the same time though, the IoT increases the attack surface for malicious actors and has serious security and privacy repercussions.

For the novices amongst us, can you quickly describe what the IoT refers to?

At its essence, the internet of things refers to a growing number of objects, ranging from household goods to industrial machinery, that use the internet to send and receive information. The term IoT was actually coined back in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, who was instrumental in further developing Radio Frequency Identification Technology, (RFID) which is vital to the IoT. The connection of these objects creates a network that is already changing the way we live and operate. Most people have heard about devices used in homes, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, but are surprised to learn the IoT is changing retail, manufacturing, healthcare and transport.

How could Australian policymakers better manage the risks associated with IoT?

The first step is to better understand the problem, hence the need for an issues paper. Mitigating threats posed by the IoT will involve compromise, but at the moment there is such a difference of opinion regarding how to deal with the IoT that we are not really getting anything done. Australia is not alone in this, it’s a global problem that needs a global solution. I think we need to prioritise the security of internet connected industrial control systems first, as we cannot afford to have our critical infrastructure compromised. Cheaper consumer electronic devices cannot be disregarded though, because they can lead to personal danger, privacy breaches or be used in distributed denial of service attacks like we saw with the 2016 census. In the issues paper we suggest the need for an IoT roadmap to clarify the roles and responsibilities of government and industry going forward, which I think would be really helpful for Australian policy makers.

What advice do you have for women wanting to get into this particular area?

There are incredible opportunities for women in cyber right now. My advice would be to disregard any preconceived notions you have about this field, because it is much broader than it is often given credit for. While there is a notable shortage in technical cybersecurity skills right now, Australia also needs policy analysts who understand some of the challenges that cyber poses. Cyber is an exciting and evolving discipline that needs people with lots of different skill sets to solve complicated problems.

What podcasts are you currently listening to?

I didn’t jump on the podcast bandwagon until late in the game, but one of the other interns got me listening to The Daily, which is the New York Times podcast by Michael Barbaro. It gives a really great snapshot of US and global politics. I also like listening to leadership podcasts by Andy Stanley, and love anything by Louie Giglio because he combines two of my great loves: theology and science.

Finally, who inspires you?

I have certainly been inspired by my colleagues at ASPI over the last eight months. Growing up, my parents were always my inspiration. They worked hard to provide for our family and gave us lots of great opportunities. As a young woman trying to find my way in international relations, I am inspired by the women who have paved the way before me who challenged stereotypes and demanded a seat at the table. Like most people though, I am inspired by anyone who overcomes adversity and humbly tries to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

Updated: 18 Dec 2018