The European Commission estimates cybercrime costs economies a combined €750bn a year and it's a sum that's rising as cybercriminals become more sophisticated while organisations struggle to keep up.
Coventry University's Ethical Hacking and Network Security BSc course aims to train the next-generation of cyber-security experts, using a state-of-the-art ethical hacking laboratory opened in November 2011 in the brand new Faculty of Engineering and Computing building.
However, one university can't provide all of the experts needed to close the cyber-security skills deficit, as Dr Siraj Shaikh, senior lecturer in ethical hacking and network security at Coventry University told Computing.
"There is an issue. The issue really is around [needing] a lot of people with the right level of experience and the right level of skills," he said.
"The idea is people need to have a mix of conceptual and practical skills to tackle problems both in terms of designing security systems and security monitoring, and also forensics and post-incident handling. So it's a range of skills that we need across the different sectors and that's why there's a real need - and a shortage in certain areas - that we need to address in the UK, there's no doubt."
With its ethical hacking laboratory, the University of Coventry is attempting to combat the skills deficit by nurturing the cyber-security experts of the future as they gain familiarity with penetration testing tools, encryption algorithms and forensic analysis software in three main areas, as Shaikh explained.
"The first is undergraduate provision; we've got degrees in ethical hacking and security and forensics. We've also got postgraduate degrees in network computing with courses within hacking and forensics. We've also got a research programme, which means that our students doing MSc research or Doctoral-level studies are looking at these issues."
He added that not only does the course offer a hands-on approach to learning - after all, in order to beat a hacker students need to master the same skills - but it also allows ethical hackers to collaborate with those responsible for building systems at risk of attack, such as students on the university's Transport Design courses.
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