Here are the questions you asked our panel of people who work in cybersecurity and computer forensics in Ireland.
James O’Gorman (Microsoft): I can’t stress highly enough how important Mathematics is for potential students, students with strong Mathematics skills will likely find some of the more challenging course material easier to comprehend.
For those that are fortunate enough to be offered courses such as “Computing” or “Computer Science” at second level will also find that there is a smoother transition to a related third-level degree.
For those who are not fortunate enough to be studying at establishments offering computing or computer science, look for third level courses that have introductory modules or offer a “foundation year”.
In terms of third-level qualifications, look for courses that offer a placement in industry and have strong ties with industry; these will help mitigate the chicken-and-egg scenario where you can’t get a job because you don’t have experience and you can’t get experience because you don’t have a job.
Keyun Ruan (UCD and EADS): I started programming when I was 14, and have been a bit geeky since then.
James O’Gorman: In terms of interests, hobbies and pastimes there isn’t a single prerequisite for a career within this industry – a keen interest in all things security related is often a good starting point.
A common trait of people working in the cybersecurity industry is that they are early adopters of technology, are always look for ways to improve something and feel the need to take devices apart for no apparent reason!
James O’Gorman: I studied Computer Science at the equivalent of Leaving Certificate level. As part of the course our teacher set a practical challenge to set our own grades on the school network.
The real challenge here was to circumvent security measures to gain access to our academic records and change them. The practical was designed to get us thinking about the various types of security measures and the consequences of insufficiently protecting data.
In addition this type of practical made us realise that there are often many ways in which a “hacker” can attack a system and how a security professional must sufficiently plan to mitigate all threats.
A variety of different techniques were used by the students and after the challenge was complete we had fun discussing the various techniques and the challenges each person faced.