CYBER security experts are urging more women to join the sector as the industry grapples with a shortage of qualified staff.

Poole-based C3IA Solutions – which recently appointed graduate Lucy Dalley as its newest consultant – says lockdowns have increased the need for good staff.

C3IA says the idea of tech often puts women off careers in the industry, but the sector requires a host of skills.

Only 20 per cent of staff in the industry are women, but the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is trying to change that.

Ms Dalley, originally from Southampton, earned a first class degree in cyber security management from Bournemouth University.

She said: “I know that I am part if a small minority working in cyber – but there is no good reason why women shouldn’t make it a career.

“I have been involved with the NCSC’s Cyber First scheme which is introducing young people to cyber security. If girls are engaged early, they are more likely to view it as a career.

“I’d urge careers officers at schools to make the case for cyber; it is a varied, fast-moving and interesting area in which to work.

“We know from the work at Bletchley Park during the war what value women added and it is a growing sector in which there will be jobs.

“My degree dissertation was on social engineering, which is the ways people use to manipulate others – online or in person – to gain information.

“Another area of interest is cyber psychology; trying to understand the hackers and their victims in order to prevent cyber-crime.

“With many cyber criminals operating from rogue states the chances of them being caught are extremely small, so protecting potential victims becomes more important.

“Technical surveillance counter measures (TSCM) – or bug-sweeping – is a further area of growth that is not overtly techy.”

She said the pandemic had seen a rise in ‘phishing’, where a criminal seeks to trick a recipient into revealing personal information.

“Lots of fake emails are going around claiming to be for Covid tests or vaccinations or cheap deals for PPE,” she said.

Matt Horan, security director at C3IA Solutions, said: “We need more young people going into the industry which will be better with a more diverse workforce.

“I’d echo Lucy’s calls for more women to look a cyber-security as a career.”