Educating Future IT Professionals in Cybersecurity Is a Communal Task

Posted on December 17th, 2015

When we all participate in cybersecurity, we can increase learning, anticipate future security scenarios and contribute to making the web a safer and more secure space for the global community.

Image: Shutterstock, Mihai Simonia

The OpenStand Principles promote the values of cooperation and collaboration as critical to the development of an open and thriving web. Where security is concerned, cooperation and collaboration help ensure that stakeholders on all sides of the development and application process can provide input receive due consideration, to maximize benefits for all. Furthermore, when organizations openly collaborate on the creation of security standards it can lead to an overall greater security quotient for the entire web.

According to Internet Society (ISOC) Chief Internet Technology Officer Olaf Kolkman, “Good IT professionals take the maxim of ‘security by design’ to heart.” This quote is extracted from his address at the ISOC-sponsored Nairobi Intercommunity 2015 Hub, held earlier this year. The Nairobi summit concerned itself with the concept of “collaborative security.” In short, the concept focuses on designing systems with security in mind, as opposed to integrating security solutions as an afterthought. There are a few drawbacks to this type of “bolt on” security strategy: Not only is it more difficult to effect a comprehensive solution this way, retroactively adding security measures has also proven to be more expensive.

Kolkman, along with KENET Senior System Engineer Peter Muia and Airtel Money Africa Head of Information Security Tyrus Kamau, paneled a discussion about the importance of collaborative security. The conversation centered around the “dual tragedy” of having unfilled positions in industry and unemployed ICT (information and communication technology) graduates that don’t have the correlating security skill sets. The resulting gap between what the industry requires and what the education systems are providing is not a challenge that is unique to the Nairobi market. To one degree or another, you can find a similar disjointedness in almost any established market.

Summit panelist Kamau has personally taken part in initiatives that seek to address this troubling disparity. By making integrated security a greater part of the educational experience for technology students, Kamau suggests that graduates will be more prepared to add value to a that is market greatly in need of ICT professionals. Kamau’s idea is to introduce real-world security issues into technology curriculum and to organize cybersecurity “boot camps” that will place students in high-intensity situations. Kamau believes that this approach resonates with the concept of collaborative security and that by thus educating future professionals, the whole Internet can be safer.

This collaborative approach isn’t just relevant for Nairobi; similar boot camp programs can make a positive difference almost anywhere. Because after all, when we all participate in cybersecurity, we can increase learning, anticipate future security scenarios and contribute to making the web a safer and more secure space for the global community.

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