A group of Abertay students have joined a unique group of ethical hackers in order to combat cyber-attacks on Scottish businesses.
The students have been brought on board to help handle a three-fold increase in interest from businesses this year.
The team work to help organisations become more resilient against online attacks.
In partnership with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), the ethical hacking students work to instruct business managers and staff about how to fight off online breaches of their systems, as well as testing the strength of their current security operations.
The SBRC hackers team members have all been recruited from Abertay University’s ethical hacking and cyber security degree course.
One of the main focuses for the group is the rise of so-called ransomware attacks.
Gerry Grant, ethical hacker project manager, said: “Ransomware is fast becoming one of the most common threats facing computer users today.
“Hackers will gain access to a computer by some means, by email phishing for instance, and encrypt all of the files on that machine. Once they’ve done so they can ransom your files back to you, threatening to delete them if you don’t cough up.”
Gerry Grant also tried to dispel the negative connotations of the profession, saying their work could help save businesses a lot of money.
He said: “The term ‘hackers’ understandably, gets a lot of bad press, as those with bad intentions attempt breaches against consumers, businesses and even governments.
“White hats or ethical hackers counter the role of the bad guys to find out where websites and networks could be vulnerable or open to attack. Then we advise on how these loopholes can be closed to give businesses the best chance to avoid being compromised.
“An outlay of only £40 or so for an external hard-drive can end up saving you upwards of £250 on ransomware.
“Encrypting all the information on your computer is essential to keeping your business safe – ensuring your files are regularly backed up to an external drive.”
Mandy Haeburn-Little, SBRC director, said: “We’re delighted with how this programme has evolved, expanding to take on new hackers and reaching more businesses than ever before.
“It has been great to see the engagement between Scottish businesses and the some of best talent on offer helping to make working online more secure and resilient.
“The SBRC is eager to bring innovative ideas to Scottish businesses ensuring that they can take advantage of the technology and information at the forefront of crime prevention.”
Mandy added: “Bringing in students, who interact everyday with the newest practical and academic developments in their field, allows us to disseminate the most up-to-date and innovative security for businesses and their staff.”