Botho College students who studied Ethical Hacking are finding it extremely difficult ÔÇô in some cases impossible, to get internships with companies. The most reluctant are said to be commercial banks who fear what might happen if the interns hack systems through which they manage hundreds of millions of pula.
Botho offers Ethical Hacking as a module under a degree programme in Computer Forensics. What appears to be the problem is the second word in the name of the course and the first doesn’t seem to allay fears. As part of the programme, students have to get internship positions in order to put their classroom learning to practical use. Typically, tertiary education institutions don’t secure such places for students but the latter have to do so on their own. The internship hunt is aided by a script listing all the courses that a student has studied. In the particular case of students who are enrolled for the Computer Forensics programme, Ethical Hacking is on the list.
The internship comes during the vacations and so when schools closed last month, students who had not secured intern positions went around trying to do so. Unfortunately, some Computer Forensics students are still trying to get intern positions and some are beginning to despair because time is running out.
“Companies ÔÇô banks especially, don’t want us to intern with them because we did a course on ethical hacking. They say that we might hack their systems and the fact that the hacking that we studied is ethical is not helping. It is unlikely that the unfortunate ones among us will get placement because there is only month left before school reopens,” says one of the ill-fated students.
This debacle attests to the fact that it will be some time before the industry and tertiary education institutions establish common ground on how education should be packaged for the job market. Far too many of Botswana’s university graduates are unemployed because what they learnt in school was not relevant to what the job market requires. Working with Business Botswana, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is supposed to have developed a curriculum that plugs all the gaps. The ordeal of Botho students shows that there is still a lot that the two parties need to agree on.
The resistance from companies largely seems to stem from ignorance about ethical hacking. While calling a course “ethical hacking” was itself not a stroke of genius (indeed the term has been criticised the world over), there is nothing wrong with what it entails. Ethical hacking helps identify potential threats on a computer or network. The ethical hacker then attempts to bypass system security and search for any weak points that could be exploited by malicious hackers. This information is then used by the organization to improve the system security, in an effort to minimize or eliminate any potential attacks. An ethical hacker works towards certification provided by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants and on passing becomes a Certified Ethical Hacker ÔÇô or CEH.