Our community blogger Catherine Heath has struck again! She's now written us a blog on the latest Hack Your Career in Cybersecurity event earlier this month. Read on for more information about what was discussed at the event...
Contrary to what some might think, the field of cybersecurity is more than just protecting systems against potential hackers. There are a huge range of careers available in this area, and we had the pleasure of listening to a very impressive panel of speakers who came from backgrounds ranging from top management consultancy firm KPMG, the Cabinet Office, high end supermarket Marks & Spencer and an ethical hacker start up firm Hacker House.
This diversity shows the wide reach of tech in the current job market, where the Internet of Things has made even reading a book into a connected experience, and, consequently, increased the number of insecurities in data systems.
Cybersecurity is a field relating to the need to make sure that we understand the importance of protecting our data in both the business world and our personal lives, guarding against people who might wish to exploit weaknesses in business infrastructure with the aim of causing damage; perhaps even holding sensitive data ransom.
The panel mentioned the likelihood of the next world war being a cyber war. They also referenced the security breach in broadband provider Talk Talk’s network, which involved British 16-year-olds hacking their customers’ personal data.
This case in point illustrates how the complacency of businesses can endanger their customers' privacy, and underscores how some simple preventative measures could have saved them millions of pounds. Even if customers’ privacy does not stir the sympathies of the company board, the bottom line just might. Businesses are waking up to the fact that they need to invest in cybersecurity, and as a consequence the job market is expanding.
This is the job that Michal Koczwara, an ethical hacker and red team member at Marks & Spencer is employed to do: without warning, his team schedules attacks on the company’s data networks to highlight any weaknesses, analyses the results, and then patch as needed.
This is an incredibly forward-thinking initiative of M&S, in light of the fact that most companies still hold the attitude of ‘it won’t happen to me’. While Michal’s role is extremely technical, the panel stresses that there are many other jobs within the cybersecurity industry that do not require an in-depth knowledge of programming languages.
Bedria Bedri has spent 20 years working at KPMG in a mixture of cyber security and financial services. She’s made a career out of educating senior members of organisations with the knowledge that security is not just an IT issue, but something that affects everyone in the company.
She argues that technology is now so advanced that society is not ready for it, while not enough companies are taking the risks seriously – except those in government and banking.
And cybersecurity is also the focus of Ben Aung’s job within government. He is head of cybersecurity in the Cabinet Office, though he originally started his career as an illustrator in advertising firms. He highlights the skills shortage in the cybersecurity industry, not just for technical roles but across the board.
He argues that we need to empower people to enter cybersecurity, without scaring them with the potential severity of the risks if we don’t tackle these problems now. He has educated senior cabinet leaders in the dangers of neglecting cybersecurity, and reflected that there is an appetite for change. More than ever, Ben argues there is a huge talent pipeline shortage in cybersecurity.
All in all, the panel is made up of people from both ‘technical’ backgrounds (Michal used to be a developer before taking a job at M&S) and non-technical.
Luciana Carvalho is the co-founder of ethical hacking start-up Hacker House and SE3 Solutions Ltd. Hacker House rehabilitates former young hackers, and she has a degree in law. She has always enjoyed playing with technology, teaching herself to code as a child, but was inclined to follow a more traditional academic career until she experienced her ‘quarter-life crisis’.
And that is one of the most prominent themes about the Code First: Girls “Hack your career” events: anyone and everyone can enter the tech industry if they have enough interest and dedication to learning the necessary skills. You don’t need to be a genius to work in tech – but you do need to be passionate and determined to work in such a fast-paced and exciting industry.
Bedria recommends taking only roles where you do what you love, and always keeping your eye out for the next opportunity. She counsels against comparing yourself unfavourably to others, despite the strong temptation to do so. Luciana suggests knowing yourself – both your strengths and limitations, and seeking out mentors to guide you.
Code First: Girls