By David Chismon
In an increasingly connected world, where even fridges and cars are being brought online, we need an increasing number of people to help defend our often fragile networks. But where are these people? The skills shortage in cyber security is regularly talked about and occasionally even referred to with words such as "Crisis". Companies often talk about how hard it is to find people, but what if they're not looking in the right places?
MWR has been a proud supporter of the youth outreach work at the University of Warwick for a few years now, such as providing challenges for the excellent Cyber Games, run by the UK's Cyber Security Challenge and hosted at Warwick. Recently we also took part in Warwick's week long "Head Start" programme for sixth formers interested in Maths and Computer Science.
Above: Web App Assessment workshop
We and others gave talks on the career options in computer/cyber security. One of MWR's senior consultants talked about the options on the
pentesting side and it was eye opening to see the raw excitement in some of the
audience at the possibilities. This was followed with a talk about the
defensive side of the coin and produced a great number of questions. Finally we
ran a workshop to introduce the audience to web application assessment, after a
solid run through of the computer misuse act! The day ended with a round-campus
challenge, with the winning team each getting an MWR Quadcopter.
There is a lot of negative blogging about how suited Gen Y / millennials are as professionals. Sure, the attendees were constantly selfie-ing (although in some cases we suspect ironically) but we were ourselves surprised not just by how keenly the audience leapt on the subject but by some of the ingenuity they showed in attacking the challenges.
Above: Winners of the final challenge (and MWR Quadcopters)
We were particularly impressed by some of the attendees who were solving the challenges we set in less time than those who beta tested them despite no previous familiarity with the subject. They just needed introducing to the problem and they dived straight in, their natural familiarity with living in a connected world quickly helping them find solutions through blogs, Google, etc.
In summary, maybe the solution to the cyber skills "crisis" isn't companies increasingly fishing in the small and increasingly expensive pool of experienced people, but taking generally bright, enthusiastic new people, giving them challenges, support and time and creating the people we need.
Further Reading: Warwick Head Start Blog
In our opening article we discuss how we see the problem space and what some of the challenges are so given all of that, what are we looking to achieve with this website.
As we said previously we don’t claim to know all the solutions but we are certainly trying things that will enable us to find them. Along the way we’ll learn lots of lessons, we’ll no doubt have a few false starts but we’ll also get some stuff right. It’s that journey that we’re going to share on this site, including all the initiatives and events that we’re planning to run to support it all.
We don’t know yet exactly what will be on this site but the one thing we’re certain of is that it will be thought provoking, philosophical, challenging and most importantly it will be fun and engaging. We’ll get techie at times, something we make no apology for, as well as extracting the concepts and key points that we encounter along the way.
We also want your help on our journey. We want you to tell us your thoughts and experiences of what we’re doing and hopefully some stories about how you’ve taken our ideas and turned them into your own projects, events and general awesomeness. We want to know the good, the bad and the ugly and to get involved please get in contact via Twitter and then keep coming back to this hub for more insight and information.
So hold on tight, this will be a wild ride for all of us.