Fight cyber crime with a degree in ethical hacking.
How did you get into teaching ethical hacking?
I am the tutor for the BSc in Ethical Hacking at Abertay. I’ve also taught mechanical engineering, mechatronics, computer programming and computer networking.
I was involved in a project between Abertay University and the NCR Corporation’s research and development operation in Dundee where we looked into ATM (cash machine) security. In order to stop people hacking into them, it was necessary to learn to think like a hacker. The more devious our mind set became, the better the security of the ATMs became because we could imagine more cyber crime attacks and design appropriate counter-measures. This is what ethical hacking involves, basically. There are many definitions of ethical hacking but I would say that it involves investigating hackers’ tools and techniques, in order to stop them committing cyber crime.
Hacking sounds dodgy! Why teach students how to do it?
It may sound strange that our students “learn” hacking techniques but to secure a computerised system, they must understand how hacks function. Learning how criminals operate is important if we are to stop them. To secure our home, we can make a better job of it by imagining how we would break in ourselves. We’d then design and install the appropriate security measures against the threat of cyber crime. Ethical hacking does the same thing, but with computerised systems.
How important is cyber security?
Cyber crime attacks are now rated up there with terrorism and pandemics by the Government and the infrastructure of our country is a major target for criminals. We depend on computers and the internet so much now, that it’s almost unimaginable that they could stop functioning. We need a workforce with specific skills to deal with cyber crime, which costs the UK £27 billion a year.
Where might an ethical hacking graduate find work?
Our graduates are in great demand and the majority of them fight cyber crime in the growing market of security or penetration testing, checking the security of a company or website, reporting their findings and giving their recommendations.
The ethical hacking degree at Abertay is quite broad and students are encouraged to develop their own specialisms. One graduate is now working in the oil industry, specialising in the securing their IT infrastructure against cyber crime.
What skills do ethical hackers need?
To start, students look at operating systems, computer programming and computer networking, as well as basic security. A good background in these areas is essential and a keen interest in technology and how it all works is a must.
What are the benefits of a career in ethical hacking?
Computer hacking is fascinating and challenging and as there’s a critical shortage of cyber security experts world-wide, job prospects and salaries are excellent. Some of our graduates are currently starting on £30K+ and they could earn up to £100K in the future.
Ethical hackers (white hat hackers ) are experts in computers and networks, whose skills are used to attack a business’s security system on behalf of the owners by looking for vulnerabilities and loopholes which a malicious (black hat) hacker could exploit.
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