Constant innovations in the technology realm have created a landscape in which cyber security measures struggle to keep up with evolving technologies. Last year alone saw a bevy of major cyber-attacks affecting various corporations and countries along with millions of individuals. Corporations like Uber and Equifax experienced major hacks that affected 57 million and 143 million people, respectively. But governments and other public entities are at risk, too. In 2017, the Petya virus spread quickly worldwide, affecting companies, ports, and governmental organizations in Russia, Ukraine, the U.K., and the U.S.
And it’s not going to get any easier. Last year, the Center of Cyber Safety and Education published their “2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study.” They found that the cybersecurity workforce gap is on pace to reach 1.8 million by 2022, a 20 percent increase over the forecast made in 2015. Other predictions are even more concerning. Cybersecurity Ventures reports that there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021. Melissa Hathaway, president of Hathaway Global Strategies, LLC, explored this ever-expanding gap: “The widening gap between the demand for cybersecurity talent and the supply of a professional workforce can be felt across all sectors, from the federal government to Fortune 500 companies. As more of society connects to the Internet – and as countries continue to adopt and embed more Internet of Things (IoT) devices in every part of life – I believe we will see even more need for cybersecurity professionals.”
While this need is ever-expanding, the good news is that there are individuals and organizations catching on to this trend and working to improve the situation. Events and programs are sprouting all over the world, helping to engage people, both young and old, in a dialogue around cybersecurity. Hathaway cites the U.S. CyberPatriot program and U.K. Cyber First Girls Competition, both of which motivate young students to pursue STEM and cybersecurity opportunities.
She also discussed the CyberSmart Summit, an event that specifically focuses on the development of cybersecurity professionals. “Every year, the CyberSmart Summit brings together leaders from industry, academia, and government to advance national and international collaboration in cybersecurity workforce development. This is a great opportunity to promote dialogue, learn from each other, and explore opportunities … to work together on cybersecurity workforce development,” Hathaway explained. In fact, Hathaway herself will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming 2018 conference (May 15-16, New Brunswick, Canada), speaking on the best practices for engaging students in STEM and cybersecurity and how to best close the cybersecurity workforce gap. Alongside Hathaway will be other speakers such as Branch Chief for Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Dan Stein and Director of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Rodney Petersen.
But the CyberSmart Summit doesn’t only work to bring together professionals. The event also has an understanding that in order to produce digitally literate graduates, then engagement at earlier ages is vital. For this reason, this year’s summit will be hosting the first ever CyberTitan Championship in parallel with the event. CyberTitan, created by the Information Communications and Technology Council, is a youth cyber education initiative which operates in affiliation with the U.S. Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot Program. By primarily focusing on middle and secondary school students, CyberTitan works to prepare these students with STEM skills and cyber literacy.
In this digital world, it’s critical that corporations and organizations have proper security measures and human capital. And, if the workforce gap in the cybersecurity industry is going to be closed before it’s too late, then programs like the CyberSmart Summit and CyberTitan will play vital roles in achieving that goal.