Something really rather cool caught my eye on the train to work today. The chap next to me had his paper open, and a headline on it read "UNIVERSITY TO OFFER HACKING COURSE". I tried to read more of it, but the chap quickly turned over the page, and started to read something about the World Cup, so I was left to check in at The Register to get the full details.

The University of Abertay in Scotland will indeed be offering a course in Ethical Hacking. Students will be taught everything they need to know about penetrating networks, cracking passwords and so forth, with a view to them going off into the real world to be security professionals who will harden the defences of company's networks. They will be taught how to crack sophisticated security systems so they can advise organisations how to protect their network infrastructure from attack. Naturally, of course, full background checks will be required.

Course leader professor Lachlan McKinnon said: "We will monitor students closely because we want them to become ethical hackers. But there is no guarantee. Harold Shipman qualified as a doctor, after all, before deciding to become a murderer."

The course will be led by tutor Colin McLean, who is currently the only academic in the UK with an ethical hacking qualification. McLean believes that, in this day and age, the need for an ethical hacking qualification is paramount; he is looking to prepare undergraduates for jobs where they will be employed to go in and test computers for any kind of security flaw.

It almost makes me wish I was back in High School, getting to choose my degree subject all over again. If they had had the choice of a course like this when I was first going to University, I would have jumped at the chance.