Information technology security training at European universities was an aspect of the university curriculum that institutions needed to address, participants were told at a conference organised by the European Network and Information Security Agency, Enisa, last month in Crete.
"Universities have started to work on courses and are defining security but we can do more in terms of programmes," said Professor Evangelos Markatos of the Institute of Computer Science of the Foundation for Research and Technology. "There needs to be a new generation of security engineers, and security has to be thought about from the beginning."
Courses that are offered, such as those at Britain's Cambridge University and Royal Holloway College at the University of London, also needed to train students for security issues in the work place, said Paul Dorey, Director of Digital Security with oil company BP.
"It helps engineers when training to think about security. Courses are being given but there is not enough awareness of standard IT security. Many large companies often have to retrain programmers, such as at banks in secure programming," Dorey said.
Markatos said universities were sensitive to hacking and cyber crime, and usually had systems in place to rapidly find such cases and stop them from spreading within the university's IT infrastructure.
While universities were updating techniques to respond to cyber attacks, institutions were also playing a vital role in raising awareness of IT security and protection through partnerships with European ministries of education and the private sector, said Isbaella Santa, Senior Expert at Enisa.
"Such an approach, of public-private partnerships, is better than say Microsoft doing it, as people would say, trying to sell software," she said. "Some universities in Germany are also offering courses on the psychological effects of stolen data, whether children are addicted to computing, and other social aspects of e-security."
Numerous universities in Europe are also part of the Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association, or Terena. This brings together managers, technical specialists and researchers with professionals in the research and education networking area. Terena is working with Enisa on network and information security in the EU.
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