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'Ethical hacking' course helps IT pros

Students learn how to attack networks

A UK school has launched an "ethical" hacking course that's designed to help IT administrators protect company networks.

The International Correspondence School, which offers home learning, said the course will enable IT professionals to have a better understanding of hacking so that they can protect their own networks more effectively. It's available directly loaded onto an Apple iPod.

Key areas studied include how to scan, test, hack and secure systems, as well as intrusion detection, policy creation, social engineering, denial-of-service attacks, buffer overflows and virus creation.

The course is aimed at those already working in IT, and is expected to take six to 12 months to complete. It costs £1,799 to take the studies, and is recognised by exam creator the EC Council.

The ICS said it was "very aware" of the potential dangers of the course. Students are vetted and reference-checked by the EC Council before they are allowed to take the course, "to ensure they work for legitimate companies", it said.

Phil Worms, director at data storage supplier Iomart, said it was vital for firms to understand how hacking works: "Long gone are the days of thinking that an internet security policy was 'nice to have'. It is now an absolute necessity and education is the single most important weapon that a company can deploy against cyber attack."

A course to prepare for the exam is also available through a range of other schools. Successful candidates so far include IT workers at the Ministry of Defence, Coca Cola and BT.

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