Online Safety Is No Child’s Play: Why Gamers Make The Best Cybersecurity Experts

October 15, 2015 | By Natasha Devotta
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Last week, the UK called on gamers all across the country to participate in a one-of-its-kind challenge that could land many of them on lucrative job offers. The government-backed contest is called “Cyber Security Challenge UK,” touted to recruit the best minds from the country’s gaming community to work for the top information security companies.

Online Safety

The organizers created a virtual world called “Cyphinx” full of obstacles that the gamers have to discover and overcome. Though it’s not known to be as interesting as Minecraft, World of Warcraft, or Grand Theft Auto, the video game challenge is in its sixth year and remains to be a popular attraction for gaming junkies who aspire to be infosec professionals.

What made the English organizers zero in their head-hunting to the gaming niche? First, the UK is reported to be facing a dearth of skilled cybersecurity professionals, and it needs to fill the void with able manpower. And more importantly, the organizers drew parallels and concluded that gamers have the expected skill sets to fill the boots.

As bizarre as it might sound, the organizers are right in their approach to cherry-pick gamers for their purpose. Although rare, this is not a new phenomenon either. In fact, many universities that offer degrees in cybersecurity encourage gaming as a means to prepare their students for combat attack in the cyberworld. The mainstay of such games is designed as a “cyberwar” to test players’ abilities to flex offensive and defensive strategies.

What makes the gamers cut out for the online security industry, you may ask? Below, we try to establish the connection to this intriguing phenomenon:

1. Gamers are nerds

Geekiness runs in their veins, and cyberworld is their natural habitat. Most gamers discover their love for everything computers-related early on in their lives, and like hackers, they hang out in a virtual hive along with fellow gamers. The point being made, gamers’ intrinsic inclination to computers and technology speaks volumes about their drive to deal with nodes and networks, cheats and hacks, and employing their untiring one-track mindedness to delve deeper in outsmarting obstacles.

Gamers’ imaginative abilities to hustle swiftly through challenges give them a huge edge for becoming experts of the online security sector.

2. Fighting cybercrime is like winning a video game

Think about it – every video game has a storyline that is more or less riddled with puzzles, uncertainties, surprise attacks, unique hurdles, and successive victories. For the most part, isn’t that what cyber attacks is all about? There is also a huge amount of guesswork involved; therefore, gamers can be really good at penetration testing given the fact that they are quick at finding hidden portals or discovering tricks to progress forward.

Gamers are also known to possess leadership traits and ability to make faster decisions because of their experience in adapting with fast-paced gaming environments.

3. Gamers despise hackers

There is a long-standing animosity between gamers and hackers, and the score so far stands at — gamers=0; hackers=1+. There have been multiple instances when hackers’ groups took over popular game servers for the sake of prank and publicity. In 2013 December, hackers’ group Derptrolling brought down the game site League of Legends; in 2014, another group calling themselves Lizard Squad repeatedly attacked game servers and disrupted PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

Though the society in general might view the gaming community and the underground community of hackers as being similar, these groups have been polarised further apart because of their different priorities.

This is not necessarily a skill set that is uniform across all gamers, but the rivalry against hackers is something all gamers are aware of. Any pro-gamer who has lost their money and mind over these attacks would be resolute about settling the scores with the hacker groups.

4. Gamers are good at overcoming repetition, monotony

Working in the infosec industry involves analysing complex concepts and sifting through bulk loads of nonsensical data, which is akin to progressing in a game world. Just imagine the umpteen number of times gamers have to pass through the same stages in order to overcome a difficult level.

Critics of video games remark that gaming is a colossal time suck activity with no positive impact in the real-world. Jane McGonigal, a professional game developer who became famous for her TedTalk on “Gaming can make a better world” would disagree with the naysayers.

McGonigal believes that gamers can be good professionals because they have the “the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we (gamers) have a reasonable hope of success.” In other words, gamers are used to overcoming the tedious and repetitive nature of a work if there is a breakthrough discovery involved.

5. Gamers are good team players

The notion that gamers are lone wolves cocooned in their dungeons doesn’t hold true any more. Gaming is a social activity – it’s reported that presently 65% of gamers play in groups either with online contacts or with friends in the same room. The push for networking with other players that gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox offer is also a testimony to the teamwork involved in the gaming culture.

A plethora of video games are designed in such a way where progress is extremely difficult without collaboration with fellow peers. So when it comes to real-life scenarios, gamers are more likely to exhibit their “team player” spirit that they nurture through gaming.

There are, of course, exceptions to everything. There are gamers who are socially inept and find solace in the escapist fantasy that video games provide. And there are the likes of

Anders Breivik (the infamous Norweign mass shooter) who use video games for wrong inspiration and bring bad rep for the gaming culture. However, we would like to conclude this article by saying that the majority of gamers are technology prodigies with a drive to beat odds at the face of adversity, and thus, they make for the best infosec professionals.

Internet Security

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