Cyber Leaders of Tomorrow

Article by CNG Editor

OSP Cyber Academy, Wood, and Robert Gordon University (RGU) have joined forces to help shape the cyber leaders of tomorrow.

At a recent initiative launch at RGU’s school of Computing in Aberdeen, Wood’s Chief Information Security Officer, Malcolm Norman, endorsed the cyber awareness initiative between OSP Cyber Academy and RGU Cyber Faculty. The training initiative has been generously funded by Wood which provides vital cyber awareness induction training to every cyber student within RGU.

“RGU has a long history of graduate employment, being one of the UK’s leading vocational institutions. In order to maintain this standard, the relationship that RGU has with companies is vital — none more so than with Wood; this relationship is so important for RGU, as the students that gain placement, feed back their experiences into their chosen faculties, which enables RGU to shape and develop their courses. The more input that RGU can have from industry the better. There are benefits on both sides — very much a reciprocal relationship — working with industry enables RGU students to be better equipped when graduates are looking for employment. Preparing the cyber students is a perfect example of that collaboration with OSP Cyber Academy and Wood, one that RGU is very grateful for.”

Chris McDermott, Human Centred Research Lead & Lecturer at Robert Gordon University

The emphasis of this initiative is to ensure that all new cyber students have an awareness

of cyber threats and risks as they embark on their chosen studies. The UK government has worked tirelessly to establish a standard academic knowledge path to ensure that all UK cyber students are receiving the same level of education. The Cyber Body of Knowledge (CyBOK) sets out the academic guidance that ensures all cyber students receive a structured knowledge path.

OSP Cyber Academy is an approved training provider with National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) certified training, which reinforces the learning outcomes of their training to a UK national standard.

“Behind every single cyber attack there is a beating heart. The bad actor is human. The victim is human. So to combat the threat, we need to understand the human risks, good cyber security is as much a people function as it is a technical function. “

Malcolm Norman, CISO at Wood.

Cyber risks are real in the business community. The 2022 Global Risks Report which was released by the World Economic Forum found that 95% of cybersecurity issues are attributed to human error.

Without awareness or education on cybersecurity, businesses are susceptible to attack as those unaware of cyber risks are the most likely to be targeted and exploited. The same cyber risks and vulnerabilities exist for academia, especially when students are first embarking on their studies with no initial level of cyber awareness.

“With 5.6 million companies in UK at risk of cyber attack, there is a huge shortage of capability to meet the cyber demands required to ensure that our businesses and people are safe when online. With less than 1 in 9 business in the UK providing cyber awareness training for their staff, there is a huge shortfall in cyber education. There is a large chunk of the business community that is not raising awareness. It’s so important that every business leader should be looking to raise cyber awareness amongst their staff. For me, cyber security awareness training is essential for anyone going into the business world and for their own online safety. This
is where OSP Cyber Academy can provide that critical real-life training, awareness, and education needed.”

Irene Coyle, Chief Operating Officer, OSP Cyber Academy

These were just some of the thoughts of former Police Chief Inspector and now Chief Operating Officer at OSP Cyber Academy, Irene Coyle.

The final thoughts on the journey of this tremendous collaboration were echoed by former RGU Marketing student, Blair Wallace. Blair joined OSP Cyber Academy on a placement 4 years ago and is now shaping his own career path within the business community:

“Marketing and management was my chosen degree course which is very much people orientated. People outside of cyber security would think that cyber is all about technology, numbers on a screen and servers, and to a degree that is true however cyber is very much a human factor. People just don’t realise until they are in the cyber industry, not until they have experienced a cyber attack or a data breach, which happens a lot more than you would think. It’s then that they begin to understand just how much relates to the human factor. It’s just as important to educate your workforce as it is to focus on your technology and hardware, that is something that has become so apparent to me working with so many of the clients here at OSP Cyber Academy.”

Blair Wallace, Head of Platform & Development, OSP Cyber Academy

Collaborations like this do not have all the answers; unfortunately, there is NO silver bullet to solve all of the challenges that the cyber security industry faces. One thing that is critical is education and awareness, which every company should provide for its workforce to ensure that they have the opportunity to identify a risk before it escalates into something catastrophic.

This is not the first collaboration between Wood and RGU, and the wider business community, as for a number of years they have worked together with cyber student placements.

“The Wood Business Information Security Team learn as much from the students that join the cyber team on placement as the students do from Wood. We get enormous benefit from the curiosity of the students who join Wood with an academic stimulus and learning. In return, Wood layer on to that practical experience, which is vital context for the students’ future development. It’s a win-win situation for us all.”

Malcolm Norman, CISO at Wood.

The key message is that if we all work together to educate and raise awareness, we can make genuine change as we endeavour towards our collective goal of a positive cyberculture.