WHEN it comes to cyber security, there’s few places students can put their new skills to the test.
On Wednesday, eight of Riverina TAFE’s network security students got a rare practical chance to put what they had learned into practise.
The Australian Cyber Security Challenge runs over 24 hours and pits information technology students against a real life computer network.
Their goal is simple, to break into it using any means necessary, it will mean cracking passwords, exploiting vulnerabilities and utilising forensic and analytical skills.
More than 250 people across the nation are competing.
“They’re using the same methods used by penetration testers,” network security teacher Dan Winson said.
“Almost any part of a system can be used to compromise that system,” he said.
Mr Winson said cyber security was a growing field and the challenge was used to promote it and for government and security companies to find their next hires.
“Students have to locate a code within each challenge and submit it to prove they were successful,” he said.
“One student has used the ‘heartbleed’ exploit to harvest the details to complete one task.
“Part of the challenge is describing accurately how a vulnerability occurred and what it means to a business,” Mr Winson said.
Far from being a security risk, Mr Winson said the challenge was one way to train appropriate people with the right skills to protect networks and data.
“It’s like training a police officer to use a gun,” he said.
“The government has recognised there is a demand for these skills. These hacks are happening, there are systems that are vulnerable.
“Most will get jobs as network engineers or system admins, but as a result their networks will be safer since they can use their skills to secure them.”
Student Blake McDermott said there was a big learning curve in working out how to complete a challenge.
“It’s getting to a river and finding the one method from 20 which allows you to cross it,” Mr McDermott said.
After completing three years of study at TAFE and CSU, Mr McDermott is aiming to land a job in cyber security.
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