GMA News Online, 1 May 2017
Cybercrime is a complex, destructive and evolving threat, but the skills gap to fight hacking is just as vast. US defence giant and stealth bomber manufacturer Northrop Grumman thinks that getting schoolchildren interested in the subject is part of the answer.
In conjunction with the Cyber Security Challenge UK, the firm organised Cybercenturion – a cybersecurity championship for teams of British school pupils, after-school clubs, cadets and sixth formers. Nine months of preliminary competition resulted in ten teams attending the final in London this week.
The teams competed to defend a fictitious drone delivery company from malicious hackers – the prize a potential internship with Northrop Grumman. Fourteen-year-old schoolboy Otto Heese, from London, took a break from the contest to tell Reuters why he felt the subject matter was vital.
“One of the areas I think you really do need more cyber security involvement is the Internet of Things (IoT) and you see this a lot with developing areas,” he said. “People just rush forward to develop technology like an internet-enabled smart fridge. They don’t actually consider the security considerations because they don’t have an awareness that the smart fridge could be hacked.”
Northrop Grumman’s director of Operations Cybersecurity Group, told Reuters there was a chronic shortage of talent in the area of cybersecurity. She said: “I think probably the biggest challenge now and has been for a while is the lack of talent in this area. When you think about the evolving cyber threat it gets more complex, it gets more destructive all the time. That’s why it’s so important to build up that talent pipeline of cyber defenders because the defenders need to understand how you build systems to be resilient, how to keep them operating if they are under attack, and how to prevent that happening in the first place.”
Otto’s teacher Chris Harrison said that even for those who didn’t win the internship a bright future beckoned. “Twenty years ago Google didn’t exist. It was two guys at college that started it; and Apple, 40 years ago didn’t exist, it was two guys in their garage. It’s very much a (case of) ‘Why should I work for someone else? I can do the stuff that I’m interested in’, and while this does look good for their CV and so, they’re doing it because it’s interesting, they’re doing it because they’re interested in the subject matter,” he said. Drone security is a growing issue. Last year Intel’s McAfee Threat Predictions report suggested that drones will become a prime target for hackers due to inherent security vulnerabilities.