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Offbeat: To catch a thief…


handcuffsWould you trust your IT staff enough to send them on a professional hacking course? It's the latest training offering aimed to help IT departments shore up their security systems.

An ethical hacker may sound like an oxymoron, but its actually a new training course aiming to prove the old adage 'to catch a thief, think like a thief'.

The course, from International Correspondence Schools (ICS), teaches IT professionals how to legitimately hack into a company’s computer system in order to defend it from attack.

The “Ethical Hacker” distance learning programme is structured to create defenders against hackers; based on the logic that those trying to defend systems need to understand the techniques used by computer infiltrators worldwide, in order to provide successful defence against them.

ICS says it is aware the material could be dangerous in the wrong hands, so students must be vetted by the EC-Council, the body that certifies the course, to ensure that they work for legitimate companies. They are also reference checked before they sit the exam.

Phil Worms, director of managed, hosting and data centre specialists Iomart, said of the new course:
“The security landscape is constantly changing and, as one threat is countered, another rises to take its place, making it all the more difficult for IT managers to secure their network and end users. Research in all areas of the security industry suggests that the supply of data-stealing products and services is growing. Hackers and those who seek their services have found the internet to be the perfect trading floor.

“Long gone are the days of thinking that an internet security policy was a ‘nice to have’, it is now an absolute necessity and education is the single most important weapon that a company can deploy against cyber attack.”

The course involves around 300 hours of work and the resulting qualification is recognised by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, known as the EC-Council. This was set up after the September 11th attacks to arm US information security professionals with the tools to combat any resulting cyber war.


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