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Fighting Cybercrime in the Future

Cybersecurity education is the first step.

According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, by 2025, cybercrime is predicted to globally cost $10.5 trillion. Individuals, governments, corporations of all sizes, and every industry is susceptible to heavy losses from cyberattacks. Cybercriminals are constantly innovating new technology to find vulnerabilities in complex IT systems through sophisticated methods like ransomware attacks, identity theft, phishing, and cryptojacking. Cybersecurity aims to predict, prevent, and fight cybercrime with the help of the right tools and personnel. However, there is currently a critical shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals, despite the widespread damages caused by new-age cyber warfare. 

Where are the Cybersecurity Professionals We Need?

America alone will need a massive cybersecurity workforce in the coming decade. Organizations ready to invest in a strong cybersecurity workforce are finding that there are not enough people with the skills or experience to take on these roles. According to the Washington Post, there are nearly 465,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs across America. There will be 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the demand for information security analysts will grow 31 percent from 2019 to 2029. 

Cybersecurity Education – How We Can Build a Workforce to Battle Cybercrime

Major universities and community colleges are creating programs designed to prepare students for a career in cybersecurity, but there’s a lot to be done. Educational institutions from the high school-level must introduce students to cybersecurity as a career option. Colleges and Universities can attract talent by offering scholarships, internships, and job placement. Students should be empowered to pursue professional learning opportunities and earn their degrees in a non-traditional timeframe. Cybersecurity education must include online learning options and competency-based education where students can apply their skills and previous domain knowledge to earn their professional degrees sooner. 

Educational institutions need to identify the essential workforce skills most in-demand by cyber-security employers. These skills must form the core of the cybersecurity education programs offered. It’s also crucial to look beyond traditional recruitment methods to provide opportunities to promising students of all backgrounds, ensuring fairness and diversity. 

Who Can Be a Cybersecurity Professional? 

Traditionally, cybersecurity professionals were perceived to be gaming or tech-enthusiasts or people who had a background in math or science. Today, the industry employs diverse people with varying skill sets and personalities, and successful professionals are often much younger than in other industries. At only 18 years of age, Efren Zamaro completed his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance from an accredited online university in just four months and joined CrowdStrike, a major cybersecurity firm, as an associate security analyst. 

Our world is moving towards an increasing presence in the metaverse, trading in digital assets and entire alternate lives online. There is a rising need to protect not only our assets but our institutions and identities from cyber threats in the digital space. No one can claim to be safe or secure in this environment. Everyone has to be prepared to face and respond to cyber-attacks. Both educators and employers must invest at every level to ensure that we have the right arsenal – a future-ready cybersecurity workforce.

Richard L. Benbow, III, MBA, MA, is a Regional Vice President (West) of Western Governors University, a competency-based university.