Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Behind the scenes with our Cybersecurity apprentices

October 29, 2021

Cybersecurity is always on our minds. We want to make sure all your data is secure but accessible to you all of the time.

To round off this Cybersecurity month we asked two of our newest Apprentices, Shammas Hanif (SH) and Ben Whittaker (BW), about their experiences in the industry and what misconceptions they think people have about online data protection.


Why did you apply for this apprenticeship at Cisco?

SH: From a young age, I have never been keen to go to university and always had my heart set on an apprenticeship within the tech industry. When I saw the opportunity arise, I knew I had to take it. For me, the apprenticeship provided me with the best of both worlds – being able to have a hands-on approach and get to learn on the job whilst earning a degree.

BW: I’ve always been a ‘hands on’ kind of learner, proving my ability through my actions rather than words. Being on an apprenticeship gives me the opportunity to excel in more than just an academic way. I knew that working for Cisco would allow me to follow my interest in Cybersecurity and that they would push me to achieve a career in it.


What’s one thing you wish more young people knew about cybersecurity?

SH: I wish that more young people were aware that you don’t need to have a technical background to join the Cybersecurity industry. In fact, it can be advantageous as you can see things from a perspective that others can’t and the industry needs people with a wide range of skillsets.

Also, I wish that people were aware of the availability of Cybersecurity courses enabling young people to gain insight as to what a career in Cybersecurity could look like for them. (Examples of courses which I tried before joining Cisco include: CyberFirst, Cyber Discovery)

BW: That you don’t have to know absolutely everything about cyber right from the get-go. Cybersecurity is a huge field and it isn’t possible for you to know absolutely everything. Instead find an area of cyber that you like the most and start from there, there’s plenty of resources available if you look for them! I recommend looking at books like “Confident Cyber Security” by Dr. Jessica Barker or some of the content on Cisco Networking Academy.


What misconceptions did you have about cybersecurity before working for Cisco?

SH: When I was younger I had many misconceptions about Cybersecurity which were clarified as I have progressed through my Cybersecurity journey. Some of these misconceptions include:

–      One security product being able to defend your entire network e.g. A business can stay safe by just having anti-malware protection on their devices.

–      Only large businesses are targets for hackers when in reality anyone can be a target.

–      Cybersecurity is a team effort – no ONE individual/entity is responsible for keeping a network safe, everybody has to do their part.

BW: Cybersecurity is more than just a technical field, there’s the human side to it in sectors such as social engineering or physical security, that play an equally important role when ensuring you keep your PC’s and data safe! So no matter if you’re a programmer or a psychology student, there’s always a different part of the field that can use your skills.


How has working in cybersecurity changed your view of data or the Internet?

SH: I have learnt that many people are oblivious to the dangers of accessing the internet and how household items e.g. smart speakers can be potential security threats.

From a more personal standpoint, I have learnt that multi-factor authentication (MFA) is more important than ever and that having a strong password isn’t always necessarily the securest way of securing your data.

BW: The internet is a great tool for us to connect and provide endless amounts of resources at our fingertips, but it also allows malicious actors to have the opportunity to hack your devices. Working in Cyber has made me realise how far companies have to go to ensure your data is kept as safe as possible, using multiple layers upon layers of cyber-protection to keep you safe.

Learn more about our Apprenticeship scheme here or learn more about Cybersecurity in our Networking Academy here.

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