The University of Abertay, Dundee is taking the lead in training the next generation of computer security experts by offering Britain's first degree course in "ethical" computer hacking.

Not just anyone can take the Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures course. Applicants will have to go through Home Office and Foreign Office security clearance to take the course, so that the University doesn’t produce hackers with malicious intent.

According to a report by The Times, hacking accounts for £10 billion in damage to British firms alone, and poses a global terrorist threat.

The course operates on the premise that it takes a thief to catch a thief.

Colin McLean, the tutor of the course, reportedly spent 30 minutes hacking in to the University's computer system to obtain faculty and staff passwords, thereby demonstrating the need for the course.

It is hoped that the course will be accredited by the Department of Trade and Industry's Institute of Information Security Professionals.

Graduates of the course will likely have no problems finding employment at any number of internet security firms whose business it is to try to hack into security software and systems to expose vulnerabilities.