While I was at the Conservative Conference this year the most interesting Fringe event was on ‘Informing The Public On Cyber Crime‘. It had members from Raytheon, Met Police and Sophos.
It is interesting to note how backward we have become with regard to computer skills in schools. Which is odd as ‘IT’ classes are almost a given in every school and now with many people sitting a GCSE in ICT. This would lead you to believe that surely we must be educating more and teaching advanced skills. Instead the ICT GCSE course is primarily in how to use office and how to turn a PC on. It is clear why the stats show a decline over the past 12 months with people sitting the ICT exam. The reason is not because it is too complex or demanding, it is because most pupils could sit the exam age 10 and pass.
When I was at school our science lessons included using a BBC computer to learn programming, this was at Primary School. Ever since those days it seemed we are teaching pupils less about programming and the workings of a computer than we are the basics of how to use it. The rest of the world seems to be trying to push computer science on their children as this is the future. We seem to be losing generations from this, which is odd as we are the third largest in the world for the computer games industry. The only way people seem to have the skills are to be self taught. The self confessed geek.
If we need to move this countries technology sectors we can’t rely on a multitude of self taught IT geeks on being able to fill the void. The rest of the world has realised that computers are required in everything and realise how vital it is to push forward the younger generations skills.
Cyber crime utilises the skills of the hacker [sic] to usually try to extract something from a PC, with most of the UK dumbing down not only do people not have the skills to advance the industries but the general population will not have the basic skills to be able to protect their own PC and especially small business networks from cyber crime.
Another issue brought up by the Met Police at the conference was the big hurdle into try to get people to open up about attacks on their networks. Big businesses do not report an attack instantly and usually wait until they have aimed to sort things themselves. This leaves other similar businesses open for attack, as attackers are not going to target just one company. Unfortunately due to the fact that the information is not shared then others can not prepare their systems to defend.
We are leaving the UK wide open not only for advances in the technologies industry but also on a personal level as a way to adapt our own working systems to protect our PCs. It is time schools brought back teaching advanced computer skills from primary school level, as you can be sure other countries are doing it.