Striving to solve the security skills crisis

The Cyber Security Challenge is doing a fine job, but flat registration growth and weak Government funding are cause for concern, Tom Brewster discovers.

With so many people out of work and with many more redundancies to come, moaning about skills shortages feels a little insensitive. But when talking about an employment crisis that has a major influence on national security, it doesn't feel so bad to have a grumble.

The information security industry in this country has been suffering from a dearth of talent for years. Even though recent McAfee-backed research suggested the UK was better prepared for attacks than many, plenty more must be done to bolster the nation's defences.

The consequences of inaction are clear: few security pros means ineffective security. Imagine if our armed forces consisted of only a few thousand semi-competent soldiers, or if our defences could do little more than prevent a rambunctious group of football hooligans from causing chaos.

Such analogies are not overly hyperbolic. Every day Government bodies and successful private businesses are seeing data stolen and websites defaced. Often, the skill required to enact illicit breaches is minimal. Simple SQL injections or easily organised DDoS attacks are embarrassing councils and corporations alike.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

The scale of the problem is getting bigger, as is the depth of the problem.

That's why in 2010, the UK Cyber Security Challenge was launched, inspired by a similar programme in the US. Its aim is simple produce security professionals and get them working.

IT Pro has been tracking the Challenge's progress since its inception. As it heads into the final stages of its second year, what's clear now is that this promising initiative is moving fast, with so many competitions taking place it's hard to keep up. Yet amidst the frenetic goings on, there lurk niggling issues that need addressing if the Challenge is to meet its ultimate aim.

Upping their game

From an infrastructural stance, the improvements have been dramatic. Just last month, the project's first CEO was appointed. He carries an impressive CV too. Prior to his move over to the Challenge, Duncan Hine was head of security for NATS, the organisation responsible for UK air traffic services.

Before that, he was helping run security operations for the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service. Hine was also CIO of the Post Office. Put simply, his experience in high-profile IT is exemplary.

Advertisement - Article continues below

And importantly, he is fully aware of the nature of the crisis at hand. "The national skills shortage in this area and related areas is really profound. The scale of the problem is getting bigger all the time," Hine told IT Pro.

Featured Resources

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Three keys to maximise application migration and modernisation success

Harness the benefits that modernised applications can offer

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

The 3 approaches of Breach and Attack Simulation technologies

A guide to the nuances of BAS, helping you stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/business-strategy/public-sector/354608/uk-gov-launches-ps300000-sen-edtech-initiative
public sector

UK gov launches £300,000 SEN EdTech initiative

22 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/business-strategy/mergers-and-acquisitions/354602/xerox-to-nominate-directors-to-hps-board-reports
mergers and acquisitions

Xerox to nominate directors to HP's board – reports

22 Jan 2020
Visit/network-internet/web-browser/354614/microsoft-developer-declares-its-time-to-ditch-ie-for-edge
web browser

Microsoft developer declares it's time to ditch IE for Edge

23 Jan 2020