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Cyber security – Ethical Hacking workshop

Thursday 9 July

Words by Hayley Krippner, 2017 Alumna

With cyber security imperative in business today, the 2020 Innovative Young Minds programme participants were fortunate to engage in ethical hacking during the Cyber security 101 workshop hosted by SSS IT Security Specialists. SSS IT Security Specialists hosted Zoom for the entirety of the 2020 Online IYM programme and information security consultant Tim Sweet ensured that it was cyber secure.

Students were introduced to cyber security and how ethical hackers protect people and companies from cybercriminals. The workshop was led by Tim who was accompanied by security engineer Nicola Haldezos. Nicola talked about how she got into her role in the identity and assessment management team, where she looks at user accounts and public key infrastructure. Tim and Nicola then taught the students the key concepts of cyber security.

Ethical hacking is when a person gives a cyber security consultant permission to hack into their computer systems to find weaknesses so their security performance can be improved. They explained the fundamentals of trojans and RATs — malware which disguises malicious intent, computer networks, social engineering, clients and servers, and what an IP address is.

Representatives from the Victoria University of Wellington Women In Tech (VUWWIT) assisted with the workshop—Events coordinator Heenal Patel, Media Liaison Melina Ariyani, Secretary Lavanya Sajwan, and Outreach Officer Samantha Glanfield.

Ethical obligations, which are a crucial part of cyber security, were discussed. Many professionals are subject to comprehensive sets of ethical obligations which, if violated, is a criminal offence. It was emphasised that “with great power comes great responsibility”.

The students were stepped through the theory of ethically hacking into a computer before given the opportunity to practice hacking into a virtual cyber security test lab. They created a RAT, a remote access trojan, which was used to hack into the target computer. Tim was enthusiastic and encouraging throughout the process, explaining each step of the way, ensuring the students followed along. The VUWWIT representatives did an excellent job of assisting the students and kept them on track. They were also more than happy to offer advice about studying computer science or software engineering degree, majoring in cyber security.

The session concluded with Tim demonstrating social engineering using a phishing email example. It illustrated just how cunning and dangerous cyber criminals can be and the importance of staying vigilant and educating yourself about cyber security.

Tim commented that “there is a real shortage of women in my industry” and is passionate about increasing the representation of women in cyber security. It was exciting to hear that some of the participants were eager to study cyber security after engaging in the workshop, and even those who were not considering a degree in this field said that it was a fascinating activity.


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