Cyber Security: Building offensive security skills
Mitchell Tuck, a second year Bachelor of Science in IT student majoring in Networking & Cybersecurity, shares his top learnings from his UTS Summer Studio experience.
During UTS Summer Studios, IT student Mitchell Tuck signed up for a 4-week intensive course on Cyber Security. The studio was developed by the UTS Cyber Security Society Vice President Larry Zektser, in consultation with industry and delivered by final year IT students with guest industry speakers.
The studio is focused on ‘ethical hacking’ also known as penetration testing, refers to the act of locating weaknesses and vulnerabilities of computer and information systems by duplicating the intent and actions of malicious hackers. or 'penetration testing' i.e. it’s for good! By identifying threats to public or private cyber infrastructure, students can give solutions on how to improve security. It's a great opportunity to develop technical and professional skills and fast-track your degree by taking subjects over Summer.
Check out Mitchell's top learnings from the Summer Studio!
Communication skills are everything
You can be at the top of your game, with strong technical skills that allow you to crack any system. However, you need the communication skills to pitch your findings, solutions and knowledge to business teams who don’t have the technical know-how.
“We were taught how to pitch our ideas to a non-technical team. We delivered presentations that included simplified breakdowns of reports while learning how to read non-verbal cues from the audience and adjust to ensure their understanding. Maintaining eye contact and reading their expressions will tell you if they are following or not, and if you need to adjust your approach to suit the audience.”
Networking with industry to get a foot in the door
UTS industry partners are at the forefront of the latest and greatest technologies and innovations against threats in the cyber world. They have to be, right? Billions, if not trillions of dollars are at stake should there be a vulnerability in their system and not to mention the impact to their reputation which would be ongoing, especially if it allows for a data breach of confidential information.
“Industry partners are a big part of the studio. They present the latest technologies being used around the world and the latest threats that they’re targeted by. This work is infinite, as technology changes, new software is made available and updates are continuously being applied. There will always be vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the big organisations who have large cybersecurity teams and dedicated cybersecurity centres. They are constantly scouting for talent so you have the chance to show them what you’re made of and make an impression”.
Building technical skills
Having a theoretical understanding is the first-step, but you need hands-on experience to get to the next level. Through this studio and the broader work that the Cyber Security Society is involved in, they have the opportunity to practice on simulated servers, supplied by industry, or ‘Hack the Box’ to practice penetration testing on live systems.
“You have to think like a hacker to exploit a system. It requires creativity to explore where the vulnerabilities might be and identify a backdoor into a system. We worked on a problem where we had to reverse engineer the reproduction of another manufacturer's product following detailed examination of its construction or composition. binary using 'Binary Ninja', with the goal of identifying how the program worked to then locate a flag.
We have a UTS team on ‘Hack the Box’, an online platform for cybersecurity professionals where you can improve your penetration testing skills. The site gives you access to multiple servers that hold different vulnerabilities. It’s also a scouting ground for employers – employers are looking for students who are performing well and offering innovative solutions to threats”.
Summer studios are a perfect opportunity to develop hands-on experience that can kick start your professional career. From Smart Cities, to High Speed Rail Simulations, Social Robotics and Molecular Diagnostic Testing, you can join a studio that compliments your study area and gives you project experience to highlight on your resume or discuss at interview. You'll develop communication and team building skills, improve your problem-solving capability and deepen your technical knowledge. And you'll have 6 credit points to fast-track your degree.