Why are there so many people from Russia among the best hackers?

Common sense says that one of the reasons why so many hackers come from Russia and the former parts of the USSR is that in these countries they taught information technology in the middle and senior classes much more actively than in the West. At the same time, there is no such well-developed “elevator” as in Silicon Valley, which helps talented IT specialists to direct their skills to perform high-paying jobs. This article explores the first part of this assumption based on publicly available data.

The conclusions of common sense are confirmed by analytics of educational data in both the USA and Russia, showing that between how American students are taught and tested in the field of IT, and how they are done in Eastern Europe, there are several important and critical differences.


Compared to the United States, many more high school students in Russia decide to devote themselves to information technology. One way to measure this is to look at the number of students who chose the AP-exam (and its counterpart in Russia, the USE) on the subject of IT.

According to an analyst done by the US University Council, for 10 years from 2005 to 2016, 270,000 US students decided to pass a state computer science exam (“ Computer Science Advanced Placement ”).

Compare with Russia: a computer science study from 2014 (in Russia it is called “computer science”) of Perm State University says that every year about 60,000 Russian schoolchildren register for taking the Russian equivalent of AP, known as the “unified state exam”. Extrapolating 60,000 for ten years, we find that twice as many people in Russia, about 600,000, have passed the computer science exam in the last ten years.

In-depth analysis of the " Strategy of national talent ", done by Microsoft Corp. for studying career in IT, there is a warning: despite the critical and ever-growing importance of this topic, computer science is taught in very few US schools. It is noted that although in the US there are now just over 42,000 schools, only 2,100 of them were certified for computer science training for APs in 2011.

Big handicap

It is possible that in Russia more people take an exam in computer science due to the fact that Russian schoolchildren have to start studying this subject at an earlier age. Federal education standards in Russia oblige to teach computer science in high school, and any school can include computer science at basic or advanced level in the curriculum.

In the work of the Perm researchers, it is noted that “in elementary school, the basics of computer science are taught in the framework of the courses“ mathematics ”and“ technology ”. Moreover, each elementary school has the right to include in the program "computer science".

The key components of the program of study in Russian secondary schools are as follows:

1. Theoretical foundations.
2. The principles of the computer.
3. Information technology.
4. Network technology.
5. Algorithms.
6. Languages ​​and methods of programming.
7. Modeling.
8. Informatics and society.

secondary school

Critical differences between countries in teaching computer science are both in the methods of instruction and in the level of proficiency that is expected on the exams.

Again, we take the Permian study and look at what is expected of the students in the computer science exam:

Block 1: "Mathematical foundations of computer science".
Block 2: "Algorithmization and programming".
Unit 3: "Information and computer technology".

Materials for testing consist of three parts.

Part 1 is a test with four choices covering all blocks. Relatively short time is allotted for passing the test.

Part 2 - a set of tasks for three levels of complexity, simple, medium and advanced. They need to give short answers like numbers or sequences of characters.

Part 3 - a set of tasks even more complexity than advanced. They need to give a detailed answer in free form.

According to the Perm study, “in 2012 in the first part there were 13 tasks, in the second - 15, in the third - 4. The exams covered key topics from the informatics course. The most difficult tasks to complete are those that require detailed answers. This includes analysis of algorithms, writing computer programs, and so on. The answers are checked by regional examiner experts on the basis of standard criteria. ”

Test in the USA

In the US, the contents of the AP exam are described in the University Council document .

The practice of computational thinking (P)

P1: Compound Computing
P2: Creating Computational Artifacts
P3: Abstraction
P4: Analyzing Tasks and Artifacts
P5: Communication
P6: Collaboration

General concept:

Idea 1: Creativity
Idea 2: Abstraction
Idea 3: Data and Information
Idea 4: Algorithms
Idea 5: Programming
Idea 6: the Internet
Idea 7: Global Implications

Admiring the problem

How to compare these two tests? Alan Poehr, director of research at the SANS Institute , an organization dedicated to security education and training, says that topics 2, 3, 4, and 6 of the Russian program can become the basis on which cybersecurity skills are built, and all students of Russian medium schools.

"There are very few schools that teach this in the US," says Poehler. - We generally do not teach these topics, and certainly do not conduct examinations on them. The Russians are doing this, and they have been doing it for the last 30 years. And in which country will more experienced cybersecurity people appear? "

Poehler said that the Russian program almost guarantees that children will have more practical experience in programming and problem solving. For example, the American AP exam does not indicate a specific programming language, and the topics for study are as follows:

• How are programs designed to help people and organizations?
• How are programs used for creative expression?
• How are algorithms implemented in programs?
• How does abstraction allow you to develop computer programs?
• How do people develop and test programs?
• What mathematical and logical concepts underlie programming?

“Pay attention, there is almost no point in learning directly about programming - I think that our students are required to write one program (together with others),” Poler wrote in a letter to our website. - It seems that they teach children to admire programming, but not to do it. The main reason cyber education doesn’t work is that most of the time, students don’t gain any useful skills. ”

Way of development

A plus can be considered the presence of signs that computer science is becoming more popular among high school students in the United States. According to the latest AP Examination report from the University Council, nearly 58,000 Americans last year passed the computer science exam, up from 49,000 in 2015.

However, computer science is the least popular among all other topics on AP testing. More than half a million students have chosen an English exam in 2016. 405,000 selected English literature. Nearly 283,000 chose governance, and 159,000 chose “ Human Geography ].

Statistics on AP testing topics in 2016 and 2015

This is not very good due to the serious lack of cyber security professionals required by employers. ISACA, a nonprofit group promoting information security, suggests that by 2019 there will be two million people in the world lacking cybersecurity professionals. According to a report by Frost & Sullivan and (ISC) 2, by 2020, about 1.5 million cybersecurity vacancies will remain empty.

The problem with hiring IT specialists is particularly acute in the United States. Companies, not finding qualified cybersecurity professionals, are increasingly looking to hire foreigners with the right skills. But in April, the Trump administration ordered a full revision of the immigration program of highly skilled labor - it is believed that this step could create new restrictions for companies hiring foreigners instead of compatriots.

Some of the largest players in Silicon Valley are calling on politicians to adopt a more forward-thinking strategy to solve problems with the lack of professionals on their own. In a report on National Talent Strategy , Microsoft says it spends 83% of its international budget on research and development in the United States.

“But companies from our industry will not be able to concentrate work in the field of R & D in this country if we are unable to fill vacancies,” the report says. “If the situation does not change, then a situation in which unfilled vacancies will move to those countries where schools produce more people who own the exact sciences , which the global economy needs, will become more and more likely.”

Microsoft urges policy makers to adopt a national program to strengthen the education of the K-12 STEM, hiring and training more teachers in this area. The company also argues that states should more generously finance access to computer science in high school, and that teaching computer science to students in the US should begin much earlier.

"In the short term, we will face untapped opportunities for job growth in America," Microsoft warns. “In the long run, this could spur economic competition in the area in which the United States was a pioneer.”

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/404865/

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