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Society urged to nurture cyber talent at Microsoft security conference

Cyber security investigative reporter Brian Krebs urges society to cultivate more “hackers for good” in today’s age of internet supervillains

Societies need to get better at spotting cyber talent and nurturing it to prevent it being channeled into hacking and cyber crime, says security investigative reporter Brian Krebs.

“The US is raising [more and more] cyber criminals,” he told the Microsoft BlueHat IL invitation-only cyber security conference in Tel Aviv.

According to Microsoft, the conference brings together the brightest minds in cyber security from inside the company and across the industry to discuss the most challenging questions facing the field today.

Krebs said advanced societies have to become better at identifying talented youngsters, and even try to cultivate their talent similar to the NFL to use them for good.

Krebs has interviewed many teenage hackers. He found that while some are brought up in physically or mentally abusive families, they more commonly come from privileged and wealthy families.

They are raised by the internet, he said, which means they are introduced to cyber crime forums, find communities that they do not have in real life and are soon earning more than their parents.

“Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we live in the era of cyber supervillains,” said Krebs. “In today’s world, teens wield so much more power today than they once used to.

“They have a deep understanding of computers, networking and programming. Some are solving problems that companies don’t even know they had. However, left to their own devices, things can go terribly wrong,” he said.

According to Krebs, more than 90% of youngsters who are caught go back to what they were doing. “It’s a lucrative industry and they know how to do it very well. The hacks get increasingly extreme in order for the hackers to experience that same ‘high’,” he said.

However, Krebs said he was “very optimistic about the cyber security industry”, adding that it was “a great time to be in security”.

Read more about cyber security skills

In the UK, the Cyber Security Challenge was set up in 2010 to find and attract new talent to the IT security industry to bolster the national pool of cyber skills.

The challenge is a series of national competitions, learning programmes and networking initiatives designed to identify, inspire and enable more people to become cyber security professionals.

This includes a school programme that aims to raise awareness of careers in cyber security in secondary schools.

As part of this programme, the challenge has developed a working partnership with the National Crime Agency (NCA) to produce free teaching resources to help parents and teachers across the UK to raise awareness of the issue of cyber crime among young people and ways of using cyber skills positively.

The main competitions programme, which tests different skills and age groups, involves online qualifiers and face-to-face semi-finals culminating in the annual finale in which a champion of the year is crowned.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention