Nottinghamshire Police apprentice is learning to 'legally break into computers'

An apprentice at Nottinghamshire Police wants to inspire other young people to put their ‘cyber skills’ to good use.

By Shelley Marriott
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 1:52 pm

Joshua Freeman, 23, is learning how to legally break into computers to equip him with the skills to protect the public and the force from cyber attacks.

Joshua started the cyber security apprenticeship in February and one part of the training programme has involved penetration testing, an authorised cyber attack on a computer system to test an organisation's IT defences.

He has also been learning how to investigate real cyber attacks against individuals and businesses.

Joshua Freeman

Now Joshua is encouraging other young people to put their digital skills to positive use, rather than drift in to criminality.

With cyber skills improving with each generation, Joshua says some young people find themselves in possession of a skill set which can lead to cyber crime.

He said: “There’s a few kids who just like getting into mischief but most of the people who get into cyber just enjoy learning it. It’s the same as learning a new trick on a skateboard and showing it off. They like saying to their friends ‘look what I can do’.

“I think a lot of kids know they shouldn’t be doing it, but they don’t realise the severity of it. Kids like messing about – but when you start messing about with computers you can land yourself in a fair bit of trouble because of how connected they are. If you mess about in a classroom it’s a lot more contained.”

Joshua is spending two years with Nottinghamshire Police’s Cyber Crime Unit as part of his apprenticeship, which is designed to enable him to apply for permanent positions within the force in the future.

He said: “I applied for this apprenticeship because it ticks all the boxes. I can develop my cyber skills and not get myself into any trouble. It can also lead to a lot of decent career opportunities.”

Joshua has also praised the efforts of Nottinghamshire Police in trying to divert youngsters to use their cyber skills in a positive way and avoid criminal sanction.

The force does this through its Cyber Choices programme, which helps youngsters understand what is and isn’t legal, so that they don’t head down the wrong route to become a cyber criminal.