How To Teach Students To Thwart Cyber Hackers

The large number of young and bright students entering the digital world, positions India to be perhaps the largest producer of skilled cybersecurity professionals in the world.

Understanding the mind of your adversary is the first step towards victory on any battlefield and today cyberspace has indeed become a battlefield. The ‘data’ has become the most valuable asset in the world and protecting this ‘data’ has become the priority across all sectors. 

According to a report by Kaspersky, it was found that the brute-force attacks against remote desktop protocol (RDP) in India increased from 1.3 million in February 2020 to 3.3 million in March 2020. In just one month as Indian workers began mass working from home (WFH), and ever since, the number of attacks has increased in parallel with the rapid digitization that came about due to the pandemic. As per the Computer Emergency Response Team- India (CERT-In), there were over 600,000 cyber-attacks in the first half of 2021.

Finding a solution to cybercrimes has become an essential need and there is no question that the first step must be quality cybersecurity training. The majority of cyber-attacks can be prevented by investing in human resources instead of blindly spending on new software or better technology. After all, a quality cybersecurity education will ensure that an employee will take all the precautions to keep your network safe and your data secure.

Research shows that 95 per cent of cyber-attacks are caused due to human error or negligence. This is why minimizing human error is the best strategy when it comes to building a resilient cybersecurity policy for any company. 

The art of cyberself-defense training

Now training students, to become capable cybersecurity professionals, has become a matter of national importance. It may be equated to preparing soldiers for battle, and in battle to defeat your enemy; you must be able to think like them first.

In the famous book ‘The Art of War’, the author says to defeat the enemy you must know the enemy first. This statement couldn’t be more relevant when it comes to cybersecurity training as well. You must be able to think like a hacker first, you must analyze the weak areas that the hacker is likely to exploit and prepare your defences accordingly. 

Further, it is not about merely knowing the weakness of the network but it is about being able to think of unique ways of exploiting the same weak spots the way the hacker is able to. It is about being able to approach your network defence from different angles and cover the various aspects such that you have a contingency plan prepared for all possible attacks.

Decoding the mind of a hacker

Unlike conventional crime, cybercrimes involve intricate planning and execution. Understanding how a hacker thinks isn’t a straightforward job. The times have changed and today we are up against a much-evolved kind of hacker, who is bold and innovative. Understanding this complex mindset involves a deep understanding of the psychological aspects of the crime. Much like criminal psychology, it encompasses the study of the hacker’s motivation, mentality, mindset. It is akin to a game of chess, where you try to predict your opponent’s moves.

To think like a hacker first your students must know what are the vulnerabilities of a network. They must understand the methods of a hacker, what kind of strategy the person may use against you.

Hackers can cause harm to your system through various means like:

  1. They may send you phishing emails.
  2. By sending malware like worms, trojans, viruses, etc to corrupt your system.
  3. Through attacks like Denial of Service (DoS) they can slow down or crash a website.
  4. Executing financial fraud and identity theft-related crimes.
  5. Blackmailing the victims using ransomware and spyware to encrypt, lock, steal, modify, and delete your data.

Students must be made aware of the various means employed by hackers and only then can they learn how to safeguard systems and networks against such attacks.

The Way Forward

Conventional methods of education are not enough to keep up with the evolving landscape of cybersecurity. We need to provide students with an opportunity to learn by action and not just by textbook reading. Cybersecurity education is not about merely knowing, it is about being able to apply this knowledge to an evolving digital space.

The large number of young and bright students entering the digital world, positions India to be perhaps the largest producer of skilled cybersecurity professionals in the world. However, to achieve this, Universities must upgrade their curriculum and provide their students with the right environment to learn about cybersecurity. A great way of investing in the future is by creating skilled and talented cybersecurity professionals for tomorrow, today. Don’t be left behind, teach students the skills needed to protect networks from attacks. Teach cybersecurity at your institute; invest in a brighter and safer tomorrow.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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