Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 10:33 UK

Students taught computer hacking

Computer user
Students will analyse computer systems for ways hackers can get in

Postgraduate students at a Scottish university are to be taught the art of computer hacking.

The MSc Ethical Hacking and Computer Security course at Abertay University will explore the methods criminals use to attack networks.

Students will learn how to test systems for vulnerabilities and come up with ways to protect them.

It is predicted that a couple of years after completing the course graduates could be earning about 55,000.

The university already runs an undergraduate course in Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures.

Head of Computing Lachlan MacKinnon said: "One of the assumptions that people make is that if they buy virus protecting software that will protect them from all known viruses.

We're very careful to make sure that the people who are coming through are doing it for the right reasons
Lachlan MacKinnon
Abertay University
"That may well be true but there's an awful lot out there that we don't know about.

"So designing more effective systems and designing security models to ensure that we don't have these problems is what the course is based around."

He added that big businesses and organisations should not be afraid of students turning "rogue" and using their skills for bad.

"In the industry we refer to people with white hats and black hats, which comes from the old Westerns," he said.

"But realistically we're very careful about the people we take onto the program.

"We have a strong vetting procedure - in the UK we use things like Disclosure Scotland to ensure that people that we're taking on aren't coming from a criminal background.

"We're very careful to make sure that the people who are coming through are doing it for the right reasons."


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