The National Cyber Security Centre and IBM Security Join Forces to Improve Security Skills

Co-authored by Robert Calvert.

Again and again in the security industry, we hear the same challenge: Organizations are struggling to hire enough people with the right security skills. In fact, research from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education predicted that there will be a shortfall of 1.8 million cybersecurity workers by 2022. So what do we do?

Uniting to Provide Valuable Opportunities to Undergrads

For a start, the public and private sectors must work together to train the next generation of cyber professionals. This includes industry programs to improve security skills, such as the Cyber Security Challenge U.K., and government-led initiatives such as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)’s CyberFirst program. Private sector organizations are on the hunt for top talent, and they have a responsibility to provide these types of opportunities to alleviate the security skills shortage. As part of the NCSC’s CyberFirst program, IBM recently hosted a cohort of high-achieving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduates from across the U.K.

IBM is uniquely positioned to assist in this endeavor by providing access to industry-leading expertise from across the U.K. and Europe, coupled with a diverse and engaging set of opportunities. Within the program, participants were introduced to and received hands-on training for a range of IBM tools. This included IBM’s security information and event management (SIEM) platform, QRadar, incident response through the Resilient platform, and information analysis via the analyst’s notepad, i2.

In addition to the tool-based elements, participants also got a chance to work with experts from our incident response team, X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS), and our penetration team, X-Force Red. Challenges ranged from navigating a breach scenario in a fictitious company to hardware hacking a Raspberry Pi in a race-against-the-clock timing attack.

Why We Need a Joint Approach to Developing Security Skills

The course was a standout success. All participants who were interviewed at the end of the training reported a significant development in soft skills, technical skills and industry knowledge. The program’s results demonstrate the viability of intensive training for new starters in the cybersecurity industry, the benefits of recruiting more widely within STEM backgrounds and the positive results to be gained from industry-government partnerships. This joint approach to training is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work together to close the security skills gap and offer more opportunities to potential cyber talent.

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Laurie Gibbett

Security Specialist, IBM

Laurie Gibbett is a Security Specialist on the UK IBM Security Associate Partner Team. In her role, Laurie assists...