The Northern Ireland government has announced a partnership with Immersive Labs and Capita, in which cybersecurity career opportunities will be provided to 16–25-year-olds living in the region.
The pilot initiative will offer free access to an enterprise-grade cyber-skills development platform for those who may not otherwise have access to relevant education courses. Initially, the aim is to upskill 1,000 individuals, who will subsequently have job opportunities in large organizations as incident responders, security architects, and security and vulnerability analysts.
The training will take place via the Immersive Labs gamified online platform, which is used by security teams to enhance skills in areas like software development and incident response. Those youngsters selected for the program will be dropped into browser-based labs portraying a range of cyber-threat scenarios. This will help them develop skills in a range of areas, including understanding how attackers operate and Base64 encoding.
The collaboration is designed to boost employment opportunities in Northern Ireland, a country in the UK, as well as to help address the worrying cyber-skills gap. Last month, a UK government-sponsored report found that half of UK businesses reported cyber-skills gaps in 2020, while the Learning & Work Institute recently warned that the UK is heading toward a “catastrophic” digital skills shortage.
Commenting on the announcement, Northern Ireland economy minister Diane Dodds outlined: “Northern Ireland has a growing international reputation in cybersecurity and the industry has seen significant growth in recent years. Capita have teamed up with Immersive Labs to deliver this online skills development and access to job vacancies. We have been working closely with industry to promote the myriad of varied and rewarding careers within the cybersecurity area and we will ensure candidates who successfully complete training can apply for the relevant vacancies advertised on the platform.”
James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, said: “It’s great to see the Northern Ireland Government taking such a proactive role in addressing the need for cyber-skills, as well as opening up careers to as broad a range of people as possible. Large organizations are not just held back by a shortage of cyber talent, but also a lack of diverse approaches to problems which benefit from a wide range of opinions and backgrounds.”
Recruitment for the scheme will begin in June, and will be open to 16–25-year-olds resident in Northern Ireland who have essential skills or GCSEs in math and English.
Earlier this year, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, was recognized for its cybersecurity education program and work promoting cyber-skills in its local community.
The threat actors behind the notorious Emotet botnet managed to collect over four million victim email addresses over the past few years, it has emerged.
The news came from Troy Hunt, Microsoft regional director and founder of breach notification site HaveIBeenPwned.
The FBI recently reached out to Hunt to ask if the site could be used as an intermediary to help those concerned they may have been affected to check their emails against the trove.
“In all, 4,324,770 email addresses were provided which span a wide range of countries and domains,” Hunt explained in a new blog post.
“The addresses are actually sourced from two separate corpuses of data obtained by the agencies during the takedown: email credentials stored by Emotet for sending spam via victims' mail providers; and web credentials harvested from browsers that stored them to expedite subsequent logins.”
Hunt advised any individual who finds their email was in possession of Emotet to ensure their anti-malware is up-to-date, and to change their email account password as well as any passwords and security questions for accounts that might have been stored in their inbox or browser.
“For administrators with affected users, refer to the YARA rules released by DFN Cert, which include rules published by the German BKA,” he added.
Other best practice security tips also apply, including the use of two-factor authentication where possible, and strong unique passwords stored in a password manager, as well as prompt patching of all OS and software.
Emotet was finally disrupted back in January after action from the FBI and European police. Last Sunday law enforcers delivered an update to the botnet designed to erase the malware from all infected machines globally.
However, with some of the group still at large, experts believe it’s only a matter of time before they come back with an improved version of the malware.
Scores of US hospitals are thought to have been affected after a security breach at a specialist provider of equipment for cancer treatments last week.
Swedish oncology and radiology system provider Elekta explained in a company update this week that a “data security incident” had affected its first-generation cloud-based storage system.
“Immediately upon learning of this incident, Elekta partnered with leading cyber experts and law enforcement to launch an investigation to understand what happened, mitigate any possible harm, and offer our customers a reliable solution that delivers on our commitment to ensure that cancer patients have access to precise and personalized radiotherapy treatments,” the statement continued.
“We recognize the impact this might have on customers and their patients and are working tirelessly to enable customers to continue providing secure patient care.”
It said only a subset of US customers were affected and that they had been fully briefed about the situation.
However, reports suggest it was a ransomware attack that forced the firm to take its cloud storage system offline, in order to contain the breach.
HIPAA Journal claimed that one customer, Connecticut-based Yale New Haven Health, was forced to take its radiation equipment offline for over a week, with cancer patients transferred to other providers.
Other Elekta customers were luckier. Lifespan, which runs the Lifespan Cancer Institute and Rhode Island Hospital, reportedly claimed the incident only affected one afternoon of appointments.
A separate report claimed 42 hospitals and clinics were affected by the breach.
Saryu Nayyar, CEO of Gurucul, argued that organizations are only as secure as the weakest link in their supply chain.
“Malicious actors will look for any way in and will always take the easiest path. The best defense is a proactive offense,” she added.
“If your third-party vendors can’t maintain adequate security protocols then you will have to put in place proactive measures such as behavior-based security analytics, which can detect these sorts of unknown threats in real-time. Saving lives is of utmost priority.”