Digital Security Degrees – Yes? No? Maybe…….

I’ve had a few emails recently from people wanting to know more about Digital Forensic/Ethical Hacking degrees. People may be thinking I’m a little biased having invested countless thousands of pounds, man hours and sweat in to the course so far. However, isn’t everyone a little biased…

The term Ethical Hacking comes under many headings, Including Penetration Testing (my favourite), IT Security, Network Security, Security for Enterprise and so on. They all aim to cover the same topics it just depends how the course provider decides to dress the course up to attract people.

I’ve always had a passion for IT Security and Digital Forensics. Some people ask me ‘Should I do a IT security degree?’.

This is not a question anyone can answer other than the individual. The individual needs to have the interest, the passion and the self motivation.

Personally, I know I have made the right choice in choosing to study an IT Security degree. A degree which for me started out studying Digital Forensics has spiralled to be much more than that to now include not only Digital Forensics, but Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing too. IT Security degrees are still very new to the academic institutions and therefore are there to be moulded by the students in order to achieve the most out of them.  

Sure the degree has had it’s up’s and downs and the first year could have been described as a total disaster. But for me it’s what the student makes of it.

In my case, we were the first students to go through the Digital Forensics degree so the course provider had a lot to learn and fast and if I’m honest, was somewhat disorganised. However this came from a top down level. In that it seemed the management were unable to offer the resources required in order to allow the staff on the front line moving the course forward.

This made people interact with the course in many different ways, some fell at the first hurdle and jacked it in, others held out and went along for the ride to get ‘a’ piece of paper at the end and others (I would hope to include myself in this) decided to make the most of it. I bought the books, attended the seminars and conference and spoke with the lectures to say what I wanted to learn to which they were very open about, because at the same time, they were learning too.

A week rarely went by when I didn’t drop the odd Email to the computing staff with links I had found and thought would be beneficial to get some lab time for as well as other ideas and suggestions that came to me and friends on the course.

In addition I and friends on the course went out in to industry to find the industry professionals to seek their expereinces, thoughts and opinions and to see what they were all about. Social Networking in the ITSec industry can never begin too soon.

At the end of the day, it’s the student that makes their degree. Don’t expect to be spoon fed. A student needs to take responsibility for their own learning and education. You only get one chance at this. Yes you maybe paying countless thousands of pounds to be taught, but that’s not just for the education, it’s also for the life experience you get out of it for both the social and business arenas.

One thing I have learnt is a university is ultimately only responsible for teaching the learner up to around 50% in order to achieve a pass. This is all that is required for the provider to show their providing value for money and providing attractive ‘stats’ for the next years intake (customers).

I have found very often people have the misconception of Ethical Hacking degrees, for one they misunderstand the term ‘Ethical’ and secondly they expect to enter a 3-4 year degree and come out being able hack anything.

Sorry, this isn’t the case. An Ethical Hacking degree or any IT Security degree is there to give you the foundations and is a stepping stone in building a career in the ITSec industry and isn’t all about hacking 24/7 and often those who are critical of such degrees are trying to justify why they failed.

My degree for example includes modules on networking, programming, relational databases, consultancy, system fundamentals, communications as well as digital forensic crime scene investigation.

Ultimately, if your chosen career path is IT or Information Security, I would take an IT Security related degree over a standard ‘Computer Science’ degree. From what I have seen, most Ethical Hacking/Digital Forensics/IT Security degrees are the standard computer science degrees with a percentage of IT Security included.

Security for me is not just a career, it’s a passion. You get out what you put in.

This entry was written by Zac , posted on Tuesday June 21 2011at 06:06 pm , filed under Digital Forensics, Education & Training, Ethical Hacking/Pen-Testing, Privacy, Security and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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