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It Takes More Than a Decoder Ring

Posted December 6, 2011    Marc Maiffret

This week I was invited to lend my “expert thoughts” on a recent news piece on a UK intelligence agency which has opened up their hiring practices to include an online code cracking competition.  The team over at CNN’s Situation Room thought this was an interesting concept and invited me in for a quick discussion. While my 10 seconds on camera doesn’t really spell out the entire story, I thought I’d do a quick blog post to give my thoughts on the subject. You can check out the entire video here.

 While the concept itself is interesting, I think this mostly gimmick recruitment campaign highlights a larger issue that countries like ours (and clearly the UK) have, in that our universities are not  graduating students with Computer Science degrees that have security as a major component to them. Clearly this isn’t due to lack of awareness.  With Stuxnet, Duqu, Aurora, even Morto (ya, even Morto) in the news every day, why isn’t this an area of instruction?

At the recent Republican debates, cyber security was highlighted as a critical infrastructure issue, but in reality there is the very real issue of  not having enough skilled, educated people to help secure or analyze the systems, data and angles that are required to keep our country safe.  This probably won’t be solved by a decoder-ring type of contest, but rather real and substantive instruction.  For a while, we’ve heard how the US often lags in math and sciences as fields of study;  as they are closely related, I feel that we’ll be having the same discussions soon around security expertise.

During a really interesting time in my life, my mom made a comment to a certain set of authority figures that “hackers” like me were soon to be America’s greatest natural resource and that we should be properly educated and coached.  This type of contest makes me think she knew exactly what she was talking about.

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Additional articles

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On Demand Webinar – Why You Still Suck at Patching

Posted March 27, 2015    Lindsay Marsh

On Demand Webinar: Dave Shackleford recounts some of his personal experiences in patch management failure, and breaks down the most critical issues holding many teams back from patching more effectively.

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Why You Still Suck at Patching…and How to Turn Your Life Around

Posted March 25, 2015    Dave Shackleford

Live webinar | March 26, 2015 | 10am PT/1pm ET | Dave Shackleford, SANS Instructor | Why You Still Suck at Patching…and How to Turn Your Life Around

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Privilege Gone Wild 2: Over 25% of Organizations Have No Privileged Access Controls

Posted March 24, 2015    Scott Lang

BeyondTrust recently conducted a survey, with over 700 respondents, to explore how organizations view the risk of misuse from privileged account misuse, as well as trends in addressing and mitigating those risks.

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