Monday, 18 February 2013

Skills gap leaves Britain vulnerable to cyber crime


A shortage of IT security experts is leaving Britain vulnerable to the threat of internet attacks and cyber war research shows.

Cyber crime costs the country hundreds of millions of pounds every year and the skills shortage is not helping. The country’s critical infrastructure that supports government, emergency services, utilities and transport is at risk of online attacks, the National Audit Office warned.

The report stated “these services are essential to daily life… and their protection from cyber attacks is crucial”.

Figures in the government, academia and business claimed that the shortage crisis could last for two decades. The current pipeline of graduates and practitioners would not meet demand.

The NAO report added that “this shortage of ICT skills hampers the UK’s ability to protect itself in cyber-space and promote the use of the internet both now and in the future”.

How much?
The report comes after a large amount of warnings about cyber crime, which is currently estimated to cost up to £27billion a year in Britain alone. Foreign secretary William Hague has stated that computer systems which supported the London Olympics were attacked every day during the event.

Closing the Gap
Britain’s brightest computer brains came together on Saturday at the offices of the internet security company - Sophos for a cyber war game designed to find the most talented individuals.

Cyber security firms confirmed that it has become increasingly difficult to find the best computer minds because the teaching in schools and universities is not up to standard.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK logoThe Cyber Security Challenge UK was set up as a competition in 2010 to encourage the UK to get rid of the digital skills gap.

During the challenge, candidates encounter creations of both cyber criminal gangs and nation states in a virtual environment. They take on the role of forensics and defence specialists working for the UK Government. All attacks are based on real-life scenarios. Candidates then presented their findings to a panel of judges and made recommendations on actions to be taken.

Sophos LogoThe most successful participants are likely to be offered jobs or bursaries that will help them start a career in the industry.

250,000 new viruses are released on the internet every day, and 30,000 websites fall victim to malicious software every 24 hours.

Governments around the world are investing heavily on improving cyber capabilities in order to protect everything from banks to nuclear reactors, water purification plants to the national grid.

Firebrand Training caught up with James Lyne, Sophos Director of Technology Strategy at CompTIA's EMEA conference. He spoke to spoke to us about the importance of cyber security education. Watch the interview below.

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Video Transcript:
Hi. My name is James Lyne and I'm the Director of Technology Strategy at Sophos. Today at the CompTIA conference we've been running a panel about how to encourage the next generation of cyber security talent, and how to more effectively get the message across to existing employees within businesses today.

It's been one of the huge challenges of the past 20 years of security. Really the outcome of the panel was that, while we're making a lot of progress, there's a lot of attention on this issue in everything from public sector and government, through to small businesses. We've still got a long way to go, in particular in the area of new devices like mobile phones.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.