Cybersecurity in an Ever Changing World

The all-pervasive and ubiquitous nature of the computer and digital technology has made a profound mark on almost every aspect of our lives. The speed at which individuals, businesses, organisations and governments are utilising digital technology and generating data is increasing at an unprecedented rate.

As the use of computing grows and the dependency on systems and the data held in those systems increases there are many opportunities and challenges for computer science. One of those challenges is dealing with cybercrime. In parallel with the growth of computing there is a growing threat from cybercrime.  Cybercrime has reached pandemic proportions – global and never ending.  The application of digital forensics techniques seeks to solve cybercrime after the event and the application of cybersecurity seeks to develop robust computer systems and networks to prevent the cybercrime happening in the first place.

The cybersecurity domain is a challenging and complex one with technology developing at a fantastic speed and threats coming from all directions from national states to cybercriminals to individuals. Protecting the systems and using data in a safe and secure environment requires specialist understanding and awareness. There is a need for technical cybersecurity specialists to design, implement and maintain secure information systems, applications and networks.

There is however a paradox – there is a large skills gap in the cybersecurity domain and there is a demand for graduates and professionals with appropriate skills in cybersecurity. There is a challenge for educators to work with employers and government to provide programmes to address the skills gap in cybersecurity.

This lecture will examine the evolution of cybersecurity, the growth in demand for cybersecurity graduates and discuss the processes required to address the cybersecurity skills gap.

The lecture will reflect on the personal experiences in research and learning and teaching in digital forensics and cybersecurity. The lecture will consider the effectiveness of addressing the skills gap in cybersecurity and postulate on the educational requirements for the future of cybersecurity.

The lecture will be delivered by Alastair Irons

Alastair is Academic Dean for the Faculty of Computer Science and a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Sunderland – where his subject interests focus on computer forensics and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the University in September 2008 he worked at ONE North East, Northumbria University and ICI having moved to the north east from Scotland after graduating in 1984 from Edinburgh University. Alastair became a National Teaching Fellow in 2010.

Alastair’s current teaching focuses on computer forensics, digital forensics and cyber security. His research interests focus on cybersecurity and digital forensics – currently looking at threat sharing in cybersecurity, methods for digital investigations in “big data”, digital investigations in journalism, gender issues in cybersecurity, as well as the role of computer forensics in South Africa. He is also active in research in academic and pedagogic issues in higher education with particular interest in student assessment and feedback. He has recently published books on Formative Feedback and on Learning and Teaching issues in Computing. He is currently leading a research project on Problem Based Learning in Cybersecurity. Alastair is a visiting scholar at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

He serves on the management board of DYNAMO, the Advisory Board of the North East Digital Catapult and is on the management board of the North East Fraud Forum. He contributes to the British Computer Society through a number of roles and is chair of the BCS Academic Accreditation Committee, sits on the BCS Academy Board, chairs the BCS Cybercrime Forensics Special Interest Group and has recently been elected chair of the BCS NE England branch.

In his spare time Alastair participates in karate where he is a 2nd Dan black belt in Shokokai and is currently working towards his 3rd Dan.


4 thoughts on “Cybersecurity in an Ever Changing World

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