As managers look for new ways to upskill and motivate their teams, games are emerging as an increasingly popular component in employee security training programs.
Gamification can take a variety of forms. For those engaged in software development, hackathons represent an excellent way to develop practical cyber security skills that will help your organisation deploy robust web and mobile applications.
Hackathons, otherwise known as Capture-the-Flags, are events where teams compete to identify and exploit a range of bugs or vulnerabilities in a mock application. Vulnerabilities vary in terms of their complexity, with more challenging bugs earning more points. At the conclusion of the competition, the team with the most points is declared the winner.
For managers, these are the top 5 reasons you should consider sending your team to a hackathon:
1. Motivate Staff
All too often, coding and application security work can be highly repetitive. Don’t let your team get stuck in a rut of repetitiveness. Hackathon participation can be a great way to engage and motivate people because they replicate the sorts of hacking activities that probably attracted these individuals to software development and security in the first place. And as we know, motivated team members are likely to work more efficiently and stay longer with your organisation.
2. Upskilling Opportunity
A hackathon encourages collaboration between individuals who may be more accustomed to working in silos. This often results in team members learning from each other, the result of which can be a general increase in the team’s overall skills and capabilities. More junior team members will learn from their seniors, benefitting their professional development. Sometimes the seniors will even learn a few new tricks from the juniors. Your organisation will be able to identify hidden talents among team members and gain an awareness on where there may be a skills shortage that requires addressing.
3. Enhance Teamwork
Hackathons are great opportunities to encourage teamwork in which each participant needs to collaborate in a pressurised environment in order to achieve a desired outcome. The intensity of a hackathon is great for instilling in your team a strong work ethic and a culture of collaboration.
4. Identify Future Leaders
When the pressure is on, it becomes clear which members of your team demonstrate strong potential as future leaders. Those who are able to motivate their colleagues to go the extra mile, or those who assist people who are struggling, have the potential to take on future leadership roles. People who are willing to search for different solutions to problems could end-up applying that mindset in other areas of your business.
5. Creative Destruction
Creative destruction is the process of challenging long-held beliefs and practices in an attempt to find better ways of doing things. Hackathons demand that participants step out of their comfort zone and explore new ways to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. Participants will need to look at applications with a hacker mindset. This new vantage point will help them write code and develop applications in the future that are far more robust to a range of security challenges.
Gamified learning activities, such as hackathons, are fantastic ‘learning-by-doing’ events. They are among the most effective ways to train and motivate teams.