Teachers receive cybersecurity masterclass in ‘Certified Ethical Hacker’ course

The Computer and Information Sciences building at Northumbria University played host to the two-day event this weekend

Northumbria University partnered with two respected cybersecurity firms to deliver a bootcamp training event for computer science teachers and academics.

The two-day ‘Certified Ethical Hacker’ course took place this weekend, showing attendees how to monitor weaknesses in online security systems which could be vulnerable to malicious hackers. The goal of the programme was to ensure teachers across the UK education sector possess the most current cybersecurity skills to pass on to their students.

Organised by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) and the cybersecurity educators’ community organisation CISSE UK in collaboration with the university, the event capitalised on Northumbria’s strong institutional reputation in the field. The university is a member of the EC-Council, as well as an accredited examination centre for the Certified Ethical Hacker assessment, which is globally recognised.

All final year students on Northumbria’s Computer Networks and Cybersecurity BSc are given the chance to pursue the Certified Ethical Hacker exam, earning an alternative qualification from the EC-Council alongside their degree.

Dr Neil Eliot, a certified ethical hacker since 2014 and a senior lecturer in Northumbria’s computer science department, believes instilling teachers with the latest cybersecurity skills is fundamental to ensuring students are equipped with the knowledge and expertise needed to ensure students have the skills to stay safe in an increasingly digital world.

“So much of our lives are conducted online these days,” he explained, “and while this is often more convenient, it also means our personal information is at risk from hackers. It is vital that we teach young people about the risks of sharing information online, how to spot a potential threat and what to do if they expect they are being targeted.

“The best time to do this is while they are studying at school, college or university, before they enter the world of employment, but this means ensuring their teachers are up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity developments.

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“We are delighted to be hosting the first Certified Ethical Hacker bootcamp at Northumbria University and hope this is the first of many such events we can offer educators across the North East and beyond,” Dr Eliot concluded.

Dr Charles Clarke of CISSE UK added: “The cybersecurity sector evolves both rapidly and continuously, impacting the culture of how this subject is taught and experienced by students in universities.

“Subsequently, cybersecurity academics face the challenge of perpetually expanding and enhancing both knowledge and skills in a manner that is time-sensitive and provides the best outcome for students.

“Attaining industry recognised certifications is an excellent way for academics to mitigate such challenges, while symbiotically benchmarking, enhancing and validating their proficiencies.”

Since the event, Dr Eliot applied for grant funding to conduct a survey of teachers at schools, colleges and universities to uncover the level of cybersecurity education currently being offered in the North of the UK.

The academic hopes this will help them identify gaps in provision, raise awareness of the importance of teaching such skills, and shape the planning of future training events.

“The young people of today are the business owners of tomorrow and it is essential that they understand how to keep their own information, and that of their future customers and employees, safe from malicious hackers,” he said.

“By understanding the current state of play when it comes to cybersecurity education in schools and colleges, we can suggest improvements and design training which will give teachers and academics the skills required.”

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