The UK’s technology experts have issued a word of warning to industry leaders regarding the current lack of cybersecurity skills, estimating that it’ll take a further 20 years to address the current skills gap. And that’s only if we act now.
In response to this war cry, the Open University has announced details of a new government-backed course that aims to inspire 200,000 young people to bridge this gap and start a career in cybersecurity.
The course, which will accept its first students in September, is the latest in a long line of campaigns and drives to train and recruit talent to help protect UK businesses from the inexorable rise in cybercrime.
Currently there are a number of private firms across the UK such asthe ‘ftp alternative’ brand Thruincthat are taking the fight to the hackers and working to prevent the increasing number of internet attacks; however, in the arms race between computer hackers and cybersecurity professionals, currently it’s the criminals that have the upper hand.
The fast paced cybersecurity industry
The call for young people to join the fight against cybercrime has been sparked by the huge number of cyber-threats, estimated to be in the billions, which infiltrate UK businesses every day.
Although a course of this kind is long overdue, industry insiders are delighted that the skills gap in this industry has finally been recognised, and the government, working in tandem with the Open University, have finally implemented practical measures to combat it.
The course itself is an introductory programme which will run for eight weeks. As well as introducing individuals to the wide variety of threats out there, it will also impart security techniques and aim to increase knowledge and understanding in the UK generally.
This is the first push of an attack on multiple fronts, which will also include the introduction of cybersecurity skills in computing GCSEs, along with coding lessons, to help students keep up with the rapid technological advancements in the industry. There are also plans toteach children as young as 11about the basic elements of cybersecurity.
The skills gap means that a career in cybersecurity could be potentially lucrative for those with the relevant knowledge and understanding. There will also be plenty of scope to be creative and work internationally.
For now, the Open University course aims to increase awareness of cybersecurity issues and provide people with the basic skills they need to operate safely online, both in work and at home.
It’s open to all…
The intelligence agencies, police, private companies and the public sector are all facing a skills gap that is estimated will take 20 years to address.
Cybercriminals can conduct a crime without even leaving their bedroom. To combat this faceless threat, experts are urging people of any age and from all walks of life to help address the skills gap the UK faces.
Bletchley park, the home of British codebreakers during World War Two, is hosting a summer exhibition to educate schools and individuals about the importance of cybersecurity and to encourage people to take more of an interest in computing careers.
The risks posed by cybercrime
Last year cybercrime cost the global economy an estimated $445 billion. This figure is comprised of three main types of crime:
- Financial crime – the theft of credit card information and financial data
- Intellectual property theft – the theft of ideas and technology
- Economic espionage – stealing confidential information from competitors
These crimes are comprised of risks which range from simple viruses and spam emails to fraud, denial of service and even whole computer shut downs.
One of the latest and most common threats is the lifting of information from an individual or company by a hacker, before demanding a ransom for this information not to be published publicly.
With the range of opportunities in cybersecurity increasing which each new threat, there is huge potential for individuals with an interest in this area. Cybercrime currently costs an estimated 1.5 percent of UK GDP. Join the frontline in the fight against cybercrime: Your country needs you!
Have you or your company ever been the victim of cybercrime? What was the result? What measures do you currently use to protect your computer systems? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave you thoughts in the comments section below.
Jonathan Mitchell is an experienced writer, blogger and technology journalist who produces editorial and advice articles to benefit SMEs and large corporations.