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Jeroen Schijvenaars wages war against an army of potential hackers every day of his working life

He is the senior security engineer at NEC Australia in Darwin, which means he is partly responsible for the security of the Northern Territory Government’s fleet of computers.

The Netherlands-born IT expert won the Minister’s Digital Excellence Gold Award at the annual NT Digital Excellence Awards this year.

The highly regarded awards celebrate individuals and organisations for outstanding digital achievement and innovation.

Jeroen won’t discuss how often the Territory Government system comes under attack.

But he says there are thousands of hackers throughout the world who constantly try to break into computer infrastructure to steal data and intellectual property – and extort “ransom” money.

Hackers increasingly access documents from companies or individuals, “lock” them away through encryption and demand payment to release them. A company earlier this year paid

$10 million in so-called ransomware money to get its own documents back. Jeroen, who is a committee member of the Australian Information Security Association, has gained six internationally recognised qualifications since migrating to Australia 14 years ago and dedicates much of his time to training young staff at NEC and students at Charles Darwin University.

He has to remain at the top of his game – because hackers are continually sharpening their attacks, which means IT security has to continually improve their defence.

“It’s a never-ending cat and mouse game,” says Jeroen.

He regularly takes part in “war games” – hacking simulations where a red team attacks a computer system, and a blue team acts as defence.

Jeroen came to Darwin as a backpacker in 2005 and fell in love with the place, but had to return home when his visa ran out.

NEC Australia sponsored him to return. Jeroen soon married “local girl” Naomi Edwards and they now have three children.

“Naomi didn’t want to take my last name after we got married,” says Jeroen. “I can’t imagine why not. What’s wrong with Schijvenaars?”

The Best Digital Covid Response award was won by the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. The trauma centre worked with the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, and the Police, Fire and Emergency Services to develop a sophisticated website and app to allow for a fully digital workflow for all health, logistical, property, management, and task aspects.

The solution, called Covid In Communities, allows government departments and agencies to collaborate in real time for the community’s benefit.

The original system was devised by a DIPL team led by Wendy Yorke. Abi Trewin, director of disaster preparedness and response at the trauma centre, acknowledged the “enormous amount of work” done by DIPL staff and funding from the PFES.

“The system is very sophisticated and a joy to work with,” she says.

THE AWARDS The NT Digital Excellence Awards are supported by ICT peak bodies:

ACS, Australian Information Security Association (AISA), itSMF and ICTNT Major award partners are Kinetic IT, DXC Technology, HP, NEC, the NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, and the Territory Government.

Corporate and Digital Development Minister Paul Kirby says: “Territory businesses are renowned for their ingenuity and I recognise the importance of our local digital industry to our economy…

“This year has presented us with many challenges, and we have faced major disruption and unexpected challenges.

“Businesses, government and our whole community have undergone digital transformation to deal with the challenges of the covid-19 crisis and digital tools have been instrumental in keeping our economy and our lives moving.

“We are turning to our digital industry and leaders, who have the expertise to cultivate digital innovation, and support to build our digital capacity.”


ACS ICT Professional of the Year

Damien Charles, NEC

AISA Cyber Security

Professional of the Year

Jeroen Schijvenaars, NEC

Best Digital Covid Response in Partnership with Kinetic IT

National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre

Community Benefit Award in partnership with DXC Technology

Menzies School of Health Research

ICTNT ICT Business of the Year

New Future IT

ICT Project of the Year in partnership with HP

Digitally Buzzed

ICT Rising Star of the Year in partnership with NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade

Rahul Shokeen, Cloudstreet Consulting

itSMF Service Management

Champion of the Year

Liam Green, Kinetic IT

STEM Student of the Year in partnership with NEC

Tim Davis, Palmerston College

CDU Code Fair – Overall Award for Most Outstanding Entrant

Deepak Dhiman and Abhishek Arora.

Minister’s NT Digital Excellence Gold Award

Jeroen Schijvenaars, NEC