Trump must address critical cybersecurity expert shortage
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Rudy Giuliani will face many challenges in his new role as cybersecurity advisor to President Trump. Hopefully, Giuliani will prioritize the introduction of policies that tackle the ever-growing shortage of cybersecurity workers. 

According to the (ISC)2 2015 Global Information Security Workforce Study, more than 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals will be needed globally by 2020. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled in the U.S. Companies are having trouble finding the right professional possessing practical cybersecurity defense skills.

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The problem is not a lack of talent, but, in part, an education system that withholds cybersecurity training until college. College education is not for everyone. Many millennials that are savvy in information technology (IT) are looking for education models that replace enrolling in four-year academic institutions that results in loads of student debt.

 

While the U.S. is struggling to defend its digital data, cybersecurity challenges will continue growing. Digital technology touches every part of our lives. One of the first things we do when we wake up in the morning is reach out to our smartphone. When we leave home, most of us will use a digital map. During the day, we shop online and we finish our days by ordering food online.

Not many of us are thinking that, while we use all these applications, we are leaving traces of our digital identity vulnerable to be stolen, attacked and breached. As incidents in the past two years have shown, no private company or public agency — not even a political party — is fully secure from breaches.

As stated in the December 2016 Cybersecurity Report prepared by the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, effective cybersecurity depends on consumer and workforce awareness, education and engagement in protecting an individual's or organization's digital experience. 

Even though a significant lack of cybersecurity professionals has been listed in every cybersecurity report given to the president, the demand has not yet been met. President Trump’s administration has a great opportunity to step up and secure digital identities and data by investing in cybersecurity education programs. 

Boot-camp-style, hands-on training programs could be the answer to America’s digital security problems. Teaching by solving practical cyber challenges with actual cybersecurity tools provides an opportunity for students to obtain up-to-date knowledge and skills in a condensed timeframe. Speedy three-to-six-month training, focusing on practical hands-on experience, would prepare students for entry-level cybersecurity jobs.

Boot-camp-style cybersecurity training is already being applied in both the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. In less than six months, a person is trained to detect digital anomalies and defend a network using the most up-to-date cybersecurity skills and tools.

If introduced to the commercial world, this kind of training would not only help people find good jobs, but it would also save individuals thousands of dollars in college tuition. A brief cybersecurity course is considerably less expensive than a four-year college degree. 

The Trump administration should focus on policies expanding the cybersecurity workforce by establishing training centers in every state. The centers should be established in cooperation with the private sector. Companies have a vested interest in working with the government to meet the demand for cybersecurity workers.

As part of this public-private partnership, apprenticeship programs can be incorporated following the boot-camp training. Combining boot-camp training and apprenticeships will develop well-rounded cybersecurity professionals. 

Since the training would last only three to six months, it is easy to ensure that it is continuously adapting to the newest cybersecurity offensive and defensive tools. A well-developed boot camp course is responsive to the needs of the market. Obviously, the U.S. cannot change its education system overnight, but beginning with cybersecurity boot camps would be a great start.

 

Algirde Pipikaite is a cybersecurity expert, digital strategist and vice president of Augustus Global LLC, an international consulting group. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of their company or U.S. government.


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