Cybersecurity Education

Get, set, hack

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The first image that pops up when someone mentions the word ‘hacking’ is about breaking into the FBI’s database. This interpretation is more derogatory than constructive. Add to this the problem created by training institutes that claim to teach hacking ‘within 15 days’. In reality, what the aspirant learns is to perform something like cross-site scripting (XSS) on dummy websites. For the uninitiated, XSS as an attack has been blocked out since 2014. However, there is much more to hacking than this.

Hacking is a part of cybersecurity and according to a report in the New York Times, a total of 3.5 million jobs in cybersecurity are expected to be created globally by 2025. In India, cybersecurity has seen a massive boom. According to a report titled India Cybersecurity Services Landscape: A Global Hub in the Making, issued by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), in May 2020, the Indian cybersecurity services industry is expected to grow from $4.3 billion in FY 2019 to $7.6 billion in 2022. Hence, one can expect this to build a fast-growing career in this field.

Comprehensive courses

The best way to learn cybersecurity is to understand the nuances of a computer network. To do that, begin with degree programmes on Network/Cyber and/or Security, offered at the M.Tech level and then work on subjects like Networking, Cryptography, Pattern Recognition and Biometrics. A student who has graduated in Computer Science, Computer Application or Computer Science Engineering is eligible to take up this Master’s-level technical course. In addition, students often opt for certificate programmes like CISSP and industry-grade programmes such as those offered by CompTIA to make their resume stronger. Lately, various universities have launched specialised B.Tech courses with extra impetus on cybersecurity. Currently, around 203 colleges and universities across India offer a course at the Master’s level.

The best way to become an ethical hacker is to take up a specialised M.Sc in Digital Forensics. However, only a few places offer this course, as it demands a specialised infrastructure and dedicated teachers. The National Forensic Science University with headquarters in Gujarat and New Delhi is one. A White-Hat Hacker has long been accepted as a highly paid professional to solve problems legally; something that the forensic scientists are trained to do. Some private Indian universities also offer quality training and education in Digital/Computer/Cyber Forensics. Online and dedicated certifications also offer exposure to these disciplines but cannot replace long-term degree courses that involve industry exposure and practical training.

State-level and national-level hackathons are an excellent way to hone hacking skills. The Smart India Hackathon, sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is possibly the biggest stage. Student-mentor teams from this tournament often get sufficient interest from interested corporates and government services. In terms of the job opportunities, almost every network/information security-based IT company has ample vacancies in Digital Forensics, Network Security and Incident Response Management. One can expect a package of ₹3-4 lakhs per annum in the beginning and going up to ₹15-25 lakhs per annum with 8-10 years of experience.

The writer is Associate Professor & Research Intensive Faculty, Division of Research and Development, Lovely Professional University

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 6:33:31 AM |

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