A demand for IT security experts who truly understand what hackers can do, and how they do it, has brought many one-time hackers into the legal fold of protecting businesses. What hackers do is still, without a doubt, illegal. The notoreity and possible pay-off has often outweighed moral implications, though.
The continued demand for IT experts has prompted a degree-bearing course to be launched by The University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland.
Hacker’s Bachelor Degree
“In the same way that police detectives need to know how thieves can steal, computer systems administrators need to know what hackers can do,” reports the course catalog description. And what does a student get for their time? The University has launched a Bachelor of Science undergraduate course in “Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures” which will begin in October. Students will become experts in the science of hacking, and have a B.S. degree to prove it.
Approximately 30 students will be accepted in the course. Graduates are expected to obtain knowledge of how illegal computer attacks (hacking) can be performed, and how they can be stopped.
A representative for the University said that the degree course was launched in direct response to the demand for people who can skillfully test computer security – “There are an increasing number of compliance regulations and insurance policies that insist businesses carry out security checks on their networks,” the representative stated, implying that their students will be uniquely equipped to perform these security checks.
Although many undergraduate computing degrees offer elements of this hacking degree course, Abertay claims to be the first to offer a dedicated degree in hacking. They stress that students will be vetted “very carefully” in accordance with Home office Guidelines. Their progress and activities will be monitored closely throughout the duration of the degree course. “We are not going to give them a full set of tools on day one.”
In the private sector, organizations like the Training Camp also offer ethical hacking courses and qualifications.
Response to the dedicated hacking course is varied. While some experts are quick to point out that U.S. institutions have long offered courses on hacking detection and prevention in conjunction with other IT courses, other experts are raising an alarm. If we are equipping university-level students with the knowledge to break into corporate IT systems, who is going to monitor their progress and activity after the course is done?