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Cybersecurity Needs Coders

An interesting op-ed from Dr. Egginton at John Hopkins University highlights some efforts underway in the US to declare learning to code the equivalent of learning a new language.

Cybersecurity Needs Coders

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Reasonably Accurate 馃馃 Transcript

Morning everybody. How are you doing today? In this episode of the show, we're gonna talk about writing code, how that relates to security and the complexity of all this technology. Now, I was reading the New York Times this morning. I came across an op ed by Dr William Eggington from John Hopkins University.

Now, Doctor Eggington is a professor of the Humanities of Literature. Um So he definitely has a nonn um aspect or uh point of view on the subject. And that subject that he was writing about was an effort that is underway in a couple of different states um in various stages to declare that teaching kids how to code could be used as a foreign language credit.

Now, I agree with Doctor Eggington in that it shouldn't be the case. Um teaching somebody computer code and computer programming is completely different than a language and there's value in both learning a second or a third or 1/4 language is a critical skill um in the sooner you can do it the better.

Um Simply because uh there have been a multitude of studies showing that um being bilingual or Multilingual increases neuroplasticity. It uh makes it uh you know, more flexible to grasp new ideas later on in life, a whole bunch of benefits, including the fact that it makes it easier to communicate with other people.

Now, what was interesting though was the approach and the reasoning behind these efforts. And basically, it was the fact that computer code is its own language to an extent. In fact, we call them programming languages. But they're very different programming languages are designed to convey logical concepts and streams of logic on data languages.

Human languages are to express any ideas. You can literally with any human language, express any idea out there. It's an amazing, wonderful construct. And uh you know, Dr Edington even refers to this in the op ed ask no further than uh people working on n natural language processing how difficult that is to replicate uh in computer programming.

But it did sort of get the wheels turning for me. Um Because I get asked quite often by people who are starting their cybersecurity career saying, hey, do I need to know how to code? And my answer is always you don't need it, but you absolutely should understand how to write computer code.

In fact, the more you're immersed in it, the better now that's two fold why I say that um one I believe to everybody who coding, you know, coding is a critical skill and everybody should learn it. Um To some extent, you don't have to be a master programmer, but you should be able to take data from one place and put it into something else, no matter what sort of job you're into.

Um in the future, that's going to be a valuable skill, even in your volunteering activities or your own personal life, you can't go wrong by learning a new skill and computer coding is especially useful. Uh But from a security context, um I believe in a broad point of view, you can't go in just purely studying cybersecurity because you miss the bigger picture.

In fact, just watching this video or listening to this podcast, there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lines of code that have executed to get to this point that's insanely complicated. And a lot of the time, if you're not used to writing code, you have this idea that it works all the time like clockwork like I don't know a computer, but that's a misnomer.

There is a lot of complexity going on and yes, your code will do the same thing every single time, given the same inputs. But the problem is the environment in which it's executing is different. So look at your computer right now or even your mobile phone, how many apps are running right now or how many processes are running right now?

There's a lot of complexity that's interacting and the more you develop skills to understand how to write code, how to create programs, how to solve um tasks or, you know, provide instructions for the computer to solve problems, which is what computer programming is. Then the better off you're going to be from a security perspective to understand what you're trying to lock down what you're trying to create as far as security controls and what you're trying to protect as far as processing customer data, processing your organizational data.

Because remember, the goal of cybersecurity is to make sure that whatever you've built or whatever has been built works as intended and only as intended. And I think it's an absolutely critical skill to under uh skill to understand how that building, how the process of building this stuff works.

Which is why computer programming is an absolute fundamental skill. So is language development, you should absolutely learn a foreign language if you can or another language if you can. But computer programming is a critical skill moving forward for anybody but double or triple your 10 times as much for anybody interested in cybersecurity.

Because if you don't know what you're trying to secure, how could you possibly secure it? That's the show for today. Let me know what you think. Hit me up online. I'm Mark NC A in the comments down below. And as always by email me at Mark N dot ca, I look forward to talking to you about this topic and many, many others hope you're set up for a wonderful day and we'll see you on the next show.

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