Cyber-attacks increase leads to jobs boom

Cybersecurity graphic There is going to be a very high demand for cybersecurity workers

Every cloud has a silicon lining.

As the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks increase, so too does the demand for people who can prevent such digital incursions. Cyber-security is having a jobs boom.

But there aren't enough people with the necessary skills to become the next generation of cyber-cops.

According to the most recent US Bureau of Labor statistics, demand for graduate-level information security workers will rise by 37% in the next decade, more than twice the predicted rate of increase for the overall computer industry.

"Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high," forecasts the US Department of Labor.

In response, private sector firms and governments have been hurrying to work with universities to fill the gap.

This includes an ambitious project by IBM to create a partnership of 200 universities to produce the missing expertise.

As well as US universities, this talent-raising project is involving students in Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and Poland.

Global battle

Marisa Viveros, IBM's vice-president for cyber-security innovation, says it is a response to a changing "threat landscape".

The increase in cloud and mobile computing has introduced more risk, she says. And there are more complex attacks being attempted than ever before.

Cyber security drill Japanese officials carried out a cyber-security drill last week to test their response

"It's no longer about if an attack is going to happen, but when it's going to happen," she says.

Setting up a global university network with a wide range of skills, she says, is a natural response to a globalised problem.

The students trained in cyber-security will enter a relentless battle, says Ms Viveros.

Even before online products have been launched, there are attempts to hack them. And even relief funds for humanitarian disasters, such as earthquakes or typhoons, are under threat from hackers trying to steal donations, she says.

Mark Harris, an assistant professor at one of the participating universities, the University of Southern Carolina, says there has been a surge of student interest in cyber-security courses - not least because they stand a good chance of getting a job.

University threats

But Dr Harris says that it's also going to be a challenge for universities to keep up with the pace of change.

"Textbooks on the subject are out of date before they're published," he said.

According to the most recent monitoring report from IBM on the current levels of cyber-attacks, universities could do with some extra security themselves.

It shows that education faces a higher proportion of cyber-attacks than retail, consumer products or telecommunications.

Harvard's website Harvard's website was hacked by the "Syrian Electronic Army"

The only areas with more attacks than education are governments, computer services, financial institutions and media firms.

When there are attacks it can affect large numbers of people. Last month the University of Maryland faced what it called a "sophisticated cyber-attack" which breached the records of more than 287,000 present and past students.

Shadow world

It's a shadowy parallel world - and adding to the slightly sci-fi sense of unseen danger, IBM has its own "X-Force" to monitor the latest threats.

According to its latest report, the X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly, half a billion individual records, such as emails or credit card passwords, were leaked last year.

The latest trends include "malvertising", where online advertising can be used to launch malicious attacks on computer users.

It warns of "drive-by downloads", where a browsing reader can accidentally download rogue computer programs.

There is also "spear phishing", where specific individuals or organisations are targeted with fake emails to obtain confidential information.

The report says that about one in 20 attacks uses the so-called "watering hole" strategy.

Rather than trying to break into an organisation's network directly, this targets other websites where people might regularly visit, with the aim of infecting their computers and trying to get the unwitting carrier to bring a virus back into their own network.

Dr Harris, at the University of South Carolina, says attackers are creating ever more complex threats.

"I've seen the level of sophistication grow. They're spending months working on a strategy, finding weak links, using external sites, looking for a back door."

"It's like a race," says IBM's Ms Viveros. "The system gets better, then the hackers understand it and they try to catch up.

S. Korea's Cyber Terror Response Center Cyber-warfare is a new frontline: South Korea's Cyber Terror Response Center

"It's going to carry on being a problem."

Catching up

Not least because computer technology is central to so many places, such as financial markets, defence, health industries, energy supplies and the media.

"It's inside your business, inside your home," says Dr Harris.

An attack on such essential infrastructure would have profound implications. But there is no quick fix, according to the UK's spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, which last month warned it could take another 20 years to tackle the skills gap in trained cyber-security staff.

There has been a huge growth in undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses in the UK related to cyber-security, including so-called "ethical hacking", where students try to penetrate computer networks in order to reveal weaknesses in their defence.

And the UK government wants cyber-security to be "integral to education at all ages", announcing this month that there would be lessons for pupils from the age of 11 and plans for cyber-security apprenticeships.

Does all this scrambling for training mean that we should be worried about the cyber-threats?

"I know enough about this to be scared," says Dr Harris.

More on This Story

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    Government Insolvency Statistics Via Email Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    Fewer people went bankrupt last year, leaving the total number of personal insolvencies at its lowest since 2005. There were 99,196 individual insolvencies in 2014, down 1.8% on the year before, including bankruptcies, debt relief orders and Individual Voluntary Arrangements or IVAs. Bankruptcies were sharply down, by 17%, while IVAs rose slightly. Insolvency experts say the economic recovery has helped and creditors have been more willing to enter into informal repayment agreements with people in financial difficulty.

     
  2.  
    Saudi oil Via Email Roderick Macsween

    "As a former employee of Saudi Aramco of 25 years' standing and still consulting on a worldwide basis on their behalf, I can state without fear of contradiction that the wellhead cost per barrel of oil - irrespective of grade, i.e. heavy, light or extra light , averages out at between $6 to $8 per barrel.

     
  3.  
    10:30: House prices
    houses

    As standard, house prices in London are well ahead of the rest of the country. The Land Registry says average property values increased by 16.3% in December compared with a year earlier to £464,936. The east and south east also both saw steep rises in property values: up 10.3% and 10.8% respectively.

     
  4.  
    10:15: Paper review
    papers

    The Wall St Journal has a story on Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands feeling the pressure, telling senior executives at the bank they have "just a few months" to reverse the fortunes of the bank. The Times leads on Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's warning over German austerity plans. The FT says Goldman Sachs and France's SocGen may invest in peer-to-peer lending and The Telegraph reports on trouble for part of the government's foreign aid programme.

     
  5.  
    Shell earnings Via Twitter Victoria Fritz Business reporter, BBC News

    tweets: Expect a BIG backlash from environmental groups.@Shell has just announced that it WILL drill in the Arctic this yr after legal battles

     
  6.  
    Shell earnings Via Twitter Kamal Ahmed BBC Business editor

    tweets: Breaking; Shell announces it will drill in Alaska this year after delays. Needs to get the right permits - but wants to go ahead

     
  7.  
    09:44: House prices

    House prices grew by 0.6% in December, according to the Land Registry, which bases its index on house sale completions. That means house prices year on year grew by 7% nationally to £177,776 - just £3,372 below the last peak in house prices of £181,138 seen in November 2007.

     
  8.  
    09:31: Deutsche earnings

    Deutsche Bank says it expects operating cost cuts to continue in 2015 as fines loom. Its chief financial officer, Stefan Krause said: "We should see a decrease in the underlying cost base coming." Regulatory charges - finance people prefer that term to fines and being sued - are expected to increase in some areas, he said. "We have litigation settlements of the bank as well as other banks (and that) influences the operational risk map and that one is for sure going to increase," he added. "We regretfully can't give you a better outlook."

     
  9.  
    09:16: Market update

    Hong Kong and mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, in line with sharp declines across most Asian share markets. The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 189.51 points, or 1.06% to 17,606.22. The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.07%, or 265.96 points, to 24,595.85. Analysts said the drop was down to declines on Wall Street and concerns that China's market regulator will clamp down on margin trading, which has helped to fuel a recent rally.

     
  10.  
    Saudi oil Via Email

    Benjamin Higgins says "about $15 a barrel". Tristan McCooey, goes with "about 3 dollars per barrel ". Dr Ian McCormick asks: "Isn't it about $4?" All good contributions.

     
  11.  
    08:45: Deutsche earnings
    dbk

    Deutsche Bank has reported a surprise pre-tax profit of €253m in the three months to the end of 2014, helped by an unexpected drop in litigation costs and a rise in trading revenue at its investment bank. Germany's largest lender was able to postpone major legal expenses in the quarter because a number of major cases have yet to be settled, but the threat of future fines still hangs over the lender, frustrating management's efforts to boost profit.

     
  12.  
    Shell earnings Kamal Ahmed BBC Business editor

    As the first of the major oil companies to report its figures for last year, Shell plays the role of the canary in the coal mine - or on the oil rig. After a rather sickly 2013, profits are actually up. But the impact of the low oil price is clearly biting. The company announced that it would be cutting investment over the next three years in new exploration and the development of oil and gas fields, a move that will raise fresh concerns about its business in the North Sea.

     
  13.  
    08:19: House prices
    The sun illuminates property in the historic city centre of Bath

    Nationwide says house price growth got off to a weak start in January with property values up just 0.3% in the month and 3.8% higher than the same month a year earlier. That marks the lowest rates of house price growth for 14 months.

     
  14.  
    Saudi oil Via Email Neil Carter, Business live reader from Devon

    "In the eighties it was one to three dollars a barrel. Today I expect that it is in the region of six to eight dollars. Some newer fields may have higher costs due to higher exploration and extraction costs, so maybe ten to twenty dollars a barrel."

     
  15.  
    07:55: Diageo results Radio 5 live

    "The results today show we are seeing a pick up in momentum," Diageo's John Kennedy tells Radio 5 live breakfast. "If you look at the overall picture... we've seen an emerging market slowdown... but the big developed markets... are performing well despite a muted recovery particularly in Europe." India is performing strongly, as is Mexico, he adds.

     
  16.  
    07:51: Diageo results
    guinness

    Distillers Diageo say profit for the six months to the end of December dropped to £1.36bn from £1.65bn as the pound strengthened and they suffered "lower income from associates and joint ventures".

     
  17.  
    07:41: Shell earnings

    Shell's has also pulled $15bn of investment in oil exploration over the next three years. It says organic capital investment in 2015 is expected to be lower than 2014 levels. "Shell has options to further reduce spending, but we are not over-reacting to current low oil prices and keeping our best opportunities on the table," it adds.

     
  18.  
    07:24: New fund BBC Radio 4

    Nigel Wilson, chief executive of asset manager and insurer Legal & General, says the firm will put £1.5bn for a new infrastructure fund in the UK on Today. "We are very long-term investors - 20, 30, 40, 50, years," he says. Longer-term financing from fund managers like him are the future rather than shorter-term bank lending, he says. Will £1.5bn be enough? He's attracting outside investors and will borrow money to grow the fund to about £25bn.

     
  19.  
    07:15: Royal Mail chairman
    mail

    Donald Brydon will step down as chairman of Royal Mail, the company says. The company is looking for a new one. Mr Brydon will carry on until the firm's annual meeting in the summer.

     
  20.  
    07:10: Shell earnings

    Shell has reported full year earnings (on a current cost of supply basis) of $19bn compared with $16.7bn a year earlier. Fourth quarter earnings were also higher at $4.2bn compared with $2.2bn for the same quarter a year ago.

     
  21.  
    06:58: Eurozone union BBC Radio 4

    Bank of England Governor Mark Carney yesterday said the eurozone needs fiscal union to manage monetary union. James Bevan, an asset manager CCLA, tells Today "a root cause of the problem is absence of growth," low money rates alone won't get growth going.

     
  22.  
    06:48: Shell results
    Car lights are seen streaking past an oil rig extracting petroleum

    Some discussion here on the business livepage as to just how cheap it really is to extract oil in Saudi Arabia. So we thought we'd open it up to the floor. How much do you think it costs Saudi Arabia - per barrel - to extract oil from the ground. Send your answers to bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbbusiness. Usual rules apply: no peeking at the internet.

     
  23.  
    06:38: Shell results Radio 5 live

    How does the lower oil price affect alternative ways of exploring for oil such as shale? Michael Hewson of CMC markets tells Wake Up to Money shale oil exploration is largely dead in the water. Getting shale oil out of the ground is still far more expensive than getting oil out of the ground in Saudi Arabia, he says. What pushed up Saudi Arabia's oil extraction costs was the welfare programme the country introduced when the Arab Spring broke out in 2011. He adds Saudi Arabia can live with a low oil price for a long time.

     
  24.  
    06:23: Shell results Radio 5 live

    "I think there is a good chance that we could see a reduction in [Shell's] dividend and that could affect pension funds here in the UK," Michael Hewson of CMC markets tells Wake Up to Money. He doesn't see that happening just yet, but if the oil price continues to fall, or stays low for a long time, then he thinks it is unavoidable.

     
  25.  
    06:11: Shell results Radio 5 live

    Michael Hewson of CMC markets tells Wake Up to Money he expects Shell's revenues will be slightly lower when it publishes results later this morning. He is, naturally, interested in how Shell is coping with the lower oil price. He doesn't think "we've hit bottom yet" in terms of oil prices. "The Saudi's have still got their foot to the floor in terms of market share," he says. "The low hanging fruit in terms of getting oil of out the ground is gone," he adds.

     
  26.  
    06:01: Apple analysis
    apple

    Apple caught up with Samsung as the world's biggest smartphone seller in the fourth quarter of 2014, thanks to booming sales of its new iPhone 6, market researcher Strategy Analytics said. Strategy Analytics said Apple flogged 74.5 million handsets in the fourth quarter, compared to 51 million a year ago. Samsung shifted the same number, which for them was a reduction from 86 million the previous year.

     
  27.  
    06:01: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning. Do get in touch at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet us @bbcbusiness.

     
  28.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning everyone. Overnight, McDonald's has said Don Thompson will retire as chief executive of the fast food firm to be replaced by British-born Steve Easterbrook, the company's current chief brand officer. We have house price data from the Land Registry at 09:30 and Shell's results to look forward to. Stay tuned.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • A person wears a mask at the Vevcani Carnival in MacedoniaThe Travel Show Watch

    The masked Balkan carnival attracting thousands to the streets of Vevcani

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.