Napier in collaboration

Tie-up aims to bridge cyber skills gap

CyberCybersecurity company F5 Networks and IT network services provider Hutchinson Networks have agreed a groundbreaking deal to share technology with Edinburgh Napier University.

It is hoped the collaboration will help develop skills to tackle a growing global problem.

The partnership will be announced today at the Big Data in Cybersecurity conference, a gathering of industry, academia and law enforcement experts at the University’s Craiglockhart campus.

With the shortage of qualified IT security personnel predicted to reach 1.5 million globally by 2020, collaboration between educational institutions and technology companies is seen as increasingly crucial.

Through the partnership, students at Edinburgh Napier will benefit from the integration of devices provided by F5 and HN throughout their degree courses, exposing future employees to real-life IT environments and threats and enabling a better understanding of IT security technology.

Students will also benefit from training licences, allowing them to develop the appropriate skills before entering the industry as a graduate.

Enhanced by F5 and HN technology, modules on topics such as cryptography, network forensics and malware analysis are given added relevance, empowering students to feel fully prepared for a professional cybersecurity career.

Partnerships like these are seen as important in Edinburgh’s growing status in Europe as a beacon in tackling the skills shortage.

Edinburgh Napier has already produced a significant number of graduates now employed within the Scottish IT industry, with HN employing 17 graduates over the last four years.

Mihai Burghelea, a graduate of the university, said: “Studying at Edinburgh Napier was a fantastic experience that gave me the hands-on IT skills I’d need to start my career.

“As a graduate employee in today’s Scottish cyber-security industry, I can appreciate how relevant the skills taught and technology used throughout my course are to my everyday work.”

Professor Bill Buchanan, head of the Cyber Academy based within Edinburgh Napier University, said: “There is a drastic cyber-security skills shortage in the Scottish IT industry and around Europe.  For education to make graduates industry-ready, it has to be delivered in modern, dynamic ways that mirror the corporate environment.

“The support of F5 and HN has been integral to providing our students with world-class training infrastructure.

“The partnership sets the bar for how cyber-security businesses can work with academic institutions to tackle the skills gap together, for the benefit of the industry, and ultimately, society as a whole.”

  • New government research shows nearly two-thirds of large UK businesses have suffered a cyber-attack, yet only 17% of UK firms have trained staff in this area over the past year.

    Policy experts meet tomorrow in London to bring fresh ideas to the table and The Open University warns that training must become more central to businesses’ cyber-security efforts.

Tomorrow’s event, Working in Partnership to Reduce Risk in the Digital Age is organised by the Public Policy Exchange and will debate the role of key stakeholders in tackling the rising cost to the UK economy, which now stands at  £34 billion.

Last year, UK firms increased their annual IT spending as a result of cyber-crime by almost £16 billion, but the Open University says that simply increasing spending on IT infrastructure is not a sustainable way to boost defences and protect against a breach. It argues that businesses must invest in knowledge, ensuring that all employees are aware of best practice in cyber-security, and that IT practitioners have the most up-to-date skills to maintain defences.

Further information:

Big Data in Cyber Security

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