Cybersecurity: time for the kids to take the lead?

23 Jun 2017

Self taught 22-year-old Marcus Hutchins took just a few hours to stop the WannaCry ransomware attack from spreading across the globe. This is evidence in itself that if we are going to prevent and secure ourselves against these cyberattacks, we need to invest time and money in those who will be able to help us combat these crimes in the future. Indeed, whilst my two-year-old son isn’t quite capable of stopping ransomware attacks just yet, he’s very capable of working his way through an iPad to find his favourite YouTube channel and it won’t be too long until he is more technology intelligent than my parents!

Cybersecurity lessons for teenagers have recently been launched in response to concerns about a rising skills gap in the industry. The Cyber Security Challenge Schools programme is a scheme led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and is aimed at 14-18 year olds. The initiative is intended to raise awareness of cybercrime and of the various career paths available in cybersecurity, focussing on engaging secondary school students with the use of innovative tools and real life examples to develop the kind of practical skills that are required by the fast-paced industry.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing £20m for the lessons, which will be designed to fit around pupils' current courses and exams. The aim is to train at least 5,700 teenagers by 2021, and will include case studies of international cybercrime attacks and lessons on cryptography and malware. Students will be taught about the importance of firewalls, learn about key malware threats that we currently face, and also gain an understanding of the various career opportunities that are available in the industry. A common misconception is that only tech geeks will be suitable for roles within the industry, but this is certainly not the case.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, has said: “This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies. We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extracurricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent.”

Cybersecurity isn’t just a technology issue anymore. Recently, the lawyers at DMH Stallard have seen cybercrime impact organisations as never before. Although headlines about attacks are more common in terms of the big players, the threat of cybercrime is still just as real for small businesses, where online security tends to be weaker.

Not only do businesses face having to deal with the attack itself, but possibly more damaging is the longer term impact to the business over the months and years ahead. Businesses who have suffered attacks have reported damage to their financials as well as their reputation. They may also be liable to prosecution and/or fines for the loss of data, as well as to civil liability from third parties whose data has been taken. It is critical that firms have plans in place to protect data, systems and client information.

Businesses also need to be aware and alert to the risk that cybercrime in the form of data theft may not always be an external threat, but may come from within the business itself: from disaffected or departing employees. The team at DMH Stallard has acted in several cases where employees have taken business critical and confidential data to use for their own purposes or for rival businesses in competition with their employer.

Our lawyers have significant experience in taking action through the courts to protect your business and employees, and secure compensation where applicable. We regularly engage with internet service providers and are familiar in obtaining injunctions and disclosure orders where necessary.

Should you have any further questions regarding the above, please contact me via the details below.

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