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Cyber security is a concern but the future looks promising 05.05.17

 

Cyber security is a subject that is rarely out of the headlines these days. You can rarely pick up a newspaper or scour the internet to find out what’s happening in the world without coming across news of another hack that’s taken place or coverage of research showing the scale of the threat we are under.

In the past week we’ve seen a hacking group steal and leak episodes of the as yet unfinished 5th series of Netfilx’s Orange is the New Black, while Paul Edmonds, Head of Technology at the National Cyber Crime Unit, warned that computer passwords should not be changed regularly because they make users less secure.

With headlines such as these continuing to emerge, it’s easy to see why addressing cyber security has become such a hot topic within government and wider organisations. There’s a range of obstacles that need to be overcome to tackle this issue, but one of the most consistent challenges that is mentioned is the lack of cyber security professionals available to combat threats.

This lack of personnel is currently a major issue, and one is only going to get worse. Research from cyber security association (ISC)² has found that by 2022, the lack of skilled workers in the cyber security sector will hit a global level of 1.8 million.

This is an astronomical figure and one that may fill many with a sense of dread that cyber security is an issue that we may never have the means to address. However, there are several schemes and initiatives working tirelessly to address the skills gap that certainly provide a cause for optimism.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing one such initiative in action. On the 25th of April I attended the final of CyberCenturion, a national competition hosted by security company Northrop Grumman and Cyber Security Challenge UK, with support from the US Air Force Association. The competition saw ten teams of 12-18 year olds from different educational establishments across the country converge in the Institution of Engineering Technology to test their cyber skills against one another in a realistic scenario, defending a start-up drone-based food delivery service.

What immediately struck me as the competition got underway was the incredible capabilities of these youngsters and their technological understanding. They were performing tasks on their computers that I couldn’t even comprehend, using their knowledge and initiative to identify vulnerabilities in the fictional company’s network and systems and fending off threats. This was fascinating to witness, and when you consider that all of these individuals are still in education, it made the feat even more impressive.

Watching these youngsters using and improving their cyber skills in this way, it made me believe that there is without doubt the talent out there to tackle cyber security threats going forward. It felt like the next generation certainly has the capabilities to meet the demands of industry, it is just a matter of ensuring they have the opportunity to develop their skills. Competitions like CyberCenturion certainly do that, and if we can encourage more youngsters to take part in challenges such as this, it will go a long way to tackling the skills gap, helping keep us safe and secure in the future.

Find out more about the CyberCenturion final and how you can get involved here.

For more information, get in touch with Tom Harvey, Senior Account Executive at AprilSix Proof via tom.harvey@aprilsixproof.com