A shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the public and private sectors has left the US vulnerable to major cyberattacks.
Homeland Security Today has repeatedly reported on the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, as has been revealed in recent surveys that have underscored the skills gap and workplace shortages in cybersecurity in the US and around the world.
Last June, for example, Homeland Security Today reported that, “A new study released by the RAND Corporation suggested that while the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals poses a grave risk to national and homeland security, the difficulty of finding qualified cybersecurity candidates is a problem that will likely correct itself.”
The report, Hackers Wanted: An Examination of the Cybersecurity Labor Market, confirmed the notion that the shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the US leaves the nation ill-equipped to protect against serious cyberattacks and that this shortcoming could severely threaten national security.
“A shortage exists, it is worst for the federal government, and it potentially undermines the nation’s cybersecurity,” the RAND report stated.
“There is a major shortage of people with the skills and education needed to protect network and internet protocol-based control systems. The job opportunities are available, but there remains a critical shortage of skilled professionals to fill such positions,” Leischen Stelter — who works with the public safety team at American Military University – wrote in Homeland Security Today in October 2013.
Earlier this year, cybersecurity was predicted to be the fastest growing homeland security market, according to a report released by ASD Reports last year. Unfortunately, as more cybersecurity positions open up, there is a major shortage of professionals with the skills necessary to fill them.
Homeland Security Today Senior Editor Amanda Vicinanzo reported last year that a study by Raytheon found that as the demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to rise in response to the increase and sophistication of cyber attacks, millennials are starting to take notice and they want to do something about it.”
Having grown up in the digital age, the millennial generation may hold the key to closing the cybersecurity talent gap. However, the survey found that despite millennial interest in cybersecurity, a large majority of respondents— 64 percent — did not have access to high school computer classes or other types of classes necessary to build the skills required to become a cybersecurity professional or pursue a computer science related degree in college.
“This study shows that despite the fact that more students are generally interested in pursuing related careers, they often lack the needed skills and encouragement that our educators should be providing to grow the talent pipeline,” said Jack Harrington, vice president of cybersecurity and special missions for Raytheon.
“Both the private sector and educational institutions need to help inspire millennials to join our next generation of innovators and cyber defenders,” Harrington said.
Consequently, more and more universities are offering graduate degrees in certificates in cybersecurity, especially as it applies to the nation’s critical infrastructure.
To that end, a new 15-credit online graduate certificate in cybersecurity program to help the utility industry meet skills gap and workplace shortages has been created by Thomas Edison State College with a focus on utility environments.
The program is designed to help close a growing cybersecurity skills gap and meet workplace shortages, especially in utilities.
The graduate certificate in Cybersecurity-Critical Infrastructure was developed in collaboration with the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC), a global trade association representing utilities and critical infrastructure companies in the electric, gas and water industries.
The program is designed to help utility employees advance as cybersecurity professionals, and to prepare information technology (IT) professionals to transition into the utility industry as a cybersecurity professional.
“To provide electricity, water, gas and other essential services, utilities run a variety of specialized systems and networks. A compromise of these networks may cause kinetic, real-world impacts,” said Nadya Bartol, cybersecurity strategist and vice president of Industry Affairs at UTC. “We are facing a serious shortage of cybersecurity practitioners that understand how to secure these networks. This new program is built around the needs of working adults and will help us equip existing utility personnel as well as individuals with IT experience in other industries with the knowledge and skills needed to become cybersecurity professionals to begin mitigating this shortage.”
The 2015 Global Information Security Workforce Study, an international survey of nearly 14,000 information security professionals published by ISC2, estimated the shortfall in the global information security workforce to reach 1.5 million by 2020.
In addition, 86 percent of respondentsto a ISACA survey of more than 3,400 ISACA members, identified a cybersecurity skills gap. Ninety-two percent of respondents planning to hire more cybersecurity professionals said they expect to have difficulty finding skilled candidates.
“The college’s new cybersecurity certificate was created with UTC and top cybersecurity professionals working for utilities today,” a Thomas Edison State College announcement said. “The program’s online courses enable working professionals to complete the certificate in less than a year without sacrificing their careers or personal responsibilities. The 15 credits earned with the certificate can be applied to the college’s Master of Science in Applied Science degree program, which is also offered completely online.”
“What makes this program unique is that it blends both information technology and operational technology and focuses specifically on critical infrastructure companies, including those focused on energy, water, gas and transportation,” said Dr. John O. Aje, dean of the School of Applied Science and Technology at Thomas Edison State College. “Our goal is to help the utility industry meet workplace shortages of cybersecurity experts and provide a convenient option for IT professionals interested in shifting into the cybersecurity space in utilities.”
The college has also established a corporate partnership with UTC to help member utilities maximize their tuition assistance programs and benefit from a specialized service model.
The application for the college’s graduate certificate in Cybersecurity – Critical Infrastructure is now open.
To learn more about the program, visit http://www.tesc.edu/ast/Cyber-Security.cfm.