Cybersecurity Deficit Creates Employment Opportunity for the Future
“There are two kinds of big companies in the United States: those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese and those who don’t yet know that they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.” This statement by FBI Director James Comey to a Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year describes where the U.S. finds itself today in the realm of cybersecurity: Sub-par and in need of development. As Director Comey’s comment alludes to, the private sector’s lack of attention to cybersecurity in past years has allowed nation-state actors like the Chinese, individual hackers, and online fraud specialists to steal trade secrets, intellectual property, and personal identification information with ease and alarming frequency. The blame, however, is not just with the private sector, as both the federal government and state governments have had gaping holes in cybersecurity exposed over the last few years as well, some of which pose serious national security risks.
The silver lining? Now that both government agencies and private companies in America acknowledge this vulnerability, the field of cybersecurity is poised for huge growth in the coming decade. At a time when job opportunities overall remain scarce, employers are now in need of skilled cyber experts, and are willing to pay a hefty price for them. Demand for cyber professionals in all business sectors and the government is growing. It’s not just the U.S. that is in need either. Across the globe, hackers cost consumers between $375 and $575 billion annually, thus magnifying the deficiency in cyber protection.
Based on current demand and the growth of all things technological in our everyday lives, cybersecurity is likely the best avenue to pursue in the larger field of homeland security for employment opportunities in the future. However, expertise is required, which means that a potential applicant must get cyber-specific education that is credible and appreciated by employers. As a base point, individuals currently interested can look online for free computer science education materials. Currently, prestigious universities such as MIT, Harvard, UC Berkley, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford offer several free computer science courses to the public. After completing these courses, individuals could then move on to more substantive computer science courses available at universities nationwide, and build their resumes from there.
At the graduate level, schools also offer policy-based cyber courses, which are arguably just as important for the future development of cybersecurity in the U.S. CHHS, for example, developed and continues to teach the course Law and Policy of Cybersecurity through the University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law. Students gain an understanding of the laws surrounding cybersecurity, and are equipped to analyze and develop policies and procedures, whether their career paths lead them to a government job or the private sector.
Public understanding of how important cybersecurity is for the future has led to education reform in the U.S. at potentially all levels of schooling. At the collegiate level, at least one Baltimore university is implementing cybersecurity courses as required general curriculum for all future students. Perhaps more surprisingly, the U.S. Air Force Association (AFA) through its CyberPatriot program is striving to encourage high school, middle school, and elementary school students to learn and engage in cybersecurity. The AFA re-designed the current CyberPatriot program to reach middle school and elementary students after recent studies, like the 2013 Raytheon one, suggested that introducing cyber opportunities and cyber education at the high school level may be too late to make a significant impact on adolescents. By having competitions like the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition for high school and middle school children, and elementary education initiatives for younger students, the AFA hopes that students will learn of the career possibilities in cybersecurity at a young age.