Undergraduates from the University of Northampton are being equipped with the skills to fight on the frontline against computer hackers.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cyber crime costs the global economy $445 billion a year, with computer hackers’ wrongdoings including monetary and personal data theft, stealing corporate secrets and the destruction of client databases.
The University has responded to the growth in hacking by offering a degree course in Web Technology and Security, and encouraging undergraduates on other Computing courses to undertake a Security module.
George Pickers, pictured, graduated with a degree in Computer Science in 2014, before securing a position as Security and Governance Specialist in the IT department at Weatherbys, a family owned private bank which also provides services for the horseracing industry.
The grounding in computer security George gained at University prepared him for his role at the Wellingborough-based firm.
“As with the majority of organisations, we face incoming threats on a daily basis,” says George.
“The knowledge and skills I honed at the University gave me a real understanding and the practical know-how to deal with the challenges we face in our department.”
With responsibility for maintaining IT security, it is essential George keeps up with the latest industry developments – something the University has helped him to do.
With several of the University’s academic staff affiliated to the British Computing Society (BCS), the institution hosts official BCS events, such as the Pen Testing Day, which George attended in June.
Pen testing sees teams try to hack into specially set-up networks and protect their own – a discipline which is useful for an ethical computer hacker, known as a ‘white hat’ hacker, who specialises in testing methodologies to ensure the security of their organisation’s own systems.
“Pen testing is something we carry out at work on a regular basis, and to have an external event such as the one at the University is invaluable,” said George.
“It was very hands-on and really useful for those working in IT security because the threats we face are continually evolving.”
Head of Computing at the University, Gary Hill, said: “Security is one of the biggest growing areas in the industry, as more and more personal data and company information is stored online and shared across networks.
“Our courses reflect this, and we have a proud track record of graduates who go on to work for some of the biggest organisations in the UK and beyond.”
For more information about the BSc or MSc Computing (Web Technology & Security) course, visit the course page.