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What Students Services discovered when they completed a business web app test

The Business Resilience Centre for the North East (NEBRC) was recently approached by a local business who wanted to conduct some web app testing to learn if a new app was resilient enough for trading with. This was a prime opportunity to engage Students Services, part of the Cyber Talent Pipeline, a national Programme with the UK’s leading universities.

The students selected for the task were Joe, a final year student at Northumbria University, and Mackenzie, a second-year student at Sheffield Hallam. Working together daily, they completed the OWASP top 10 – the crucial areas of testing to establish risk for the client’s website and if it was vulnerable to attack. When the work was completed, a detailed professional report was then presented to the client with recommendations of actions, including fixes and future proofing guidance.

Vulnerability assessments are available in the private sector, but by approaching the NEBRC to help them carry out the testing, the client was able to take advantage this affordable service, part of a limited range of services for clients who are unsure about buying from the private sector. Part of this includes introducing them to Trusted Partners, to help them establish a long-term commercial partner they trust to work with. Notably, by engaging Students Services, this also contributes to valuable and high demand skills development in the talent pipeline of future cyber resilience professionals.

The students themselves thrived on the experience; ‘It was a massive learning opportunity’ said Mackenzie. ‘Within four days I learned a huge amount, even compared with what I was learning in my second year of university.’ Joe agreed, ‘I used to be a web developer, so I was more familiar with web app testing, but applying it to a real-life situation really solidified that expertise. I’d never written a client report before, so that was a good learning experience to be able to get a point across precisely to clients.’

All Students Services client work is over seen by some of the UK’s most experienced technical specialists with Board level careers in client management. This opportunity for the students to learn about client relationships management is a core part of the talent pipeline programme.

The web app testing was a success from the client’s point of view as well:

‘With the launch of our new property investment platform, we approached NEBRC for assistance with securing our data. The team were more than happy to help, and they kept us fully informed throughout the entire process. Upon completion, they provided us with a full in-depth report that covered all aspects of the work carried out. We are very happy with the results and would highly recommend their services.’ - David from Bricksave

With the success of the testing, Martin Wilson, Head of Student Services at NEBRC, has pride in the future of the programme. ‘We continue the training for the students year-round, and make sure they’re trained in all services that the Centre offers as well as client relationships management’ he said. ‘We’re helping them become familiar with topics that are important for small businesses, like passwords, webinars and backing up data, and how to tackle implementing these whilst under the pressure of running a small business. We also recently won another contract with a local enterprise in Leeds, so our Students are going to be busy.’

Student services are offered at every Centre in the UK-wide CRC network and all work is paid, supporting students at a time when earning during learning is becoming increasingly challenging as the hospitality sector remains largely closed. To find out more about what your regional Centre offers, visit their website via our network page.


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