Until recently, a cybersecurity education wasn’t a valuable or relevant skill.
Now employers all across the U.S. are looking for people with experience in cybersecurity. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there are 1 million cybersecurity job openings in 2016, and industry analysts predict that number to grow to 1.5 million in 2019.
If this growing need is left unaddressed, the increasing cybersecurity gap can damage the economy and safety of our country. To grow our country’s cyber defenses, we need to focus on educating America’s younger generations.
Middle and High School Students: Cyber-Aware Generation
Over the past few years, there have been more and more cyber education opportunities for children across the U.S.
One opportunity is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, a national competition for middle and high school students. The competition faces teams of students with network security challenges each round of the competition.
The final teams defend virtual networks from the attacks of a professional aggressor team. Members of the undefeated team win scholarship grants.
Besides national competitions, there are plenty of cyber education and computer science programs offered in different school districts. Cyber Girlz Silicon Valley educates 100 7th and 8th-grade girls about cybersecurity. This STEM after school program exposes the girls to topics like cryptography and networking.
Teaching Cybersecurity to Girls
Programs like Cyber Girlz have a lasting impact on children’s future. Introducing children to cybersecrity at a young age is crucial to sparking an interest. Teaching girls, in particular, about cybersecurity at a young age is also crucial because it creates and establishes the mindset that women belong in the world of computer science.
Macate was a sponsor at Dreamforce 16 last month, and attended the fireside chat with Melinda Gates and Robin Roberts, in which the conversation focused on diversity in the computer science field. Gates said she learned how to code in high school, and that introduction to computer science led her to her future career.
Hiring more women in the cybersecurity field will bring diversity and help fill the job gap.
The State of the Cybersecurity Education in Universities
Universities with the best computer science programs don’t emphasize cybersecurity enough in their curriculum.
According to a study done by Cloudpassage, most universities fail at teaching cybersecurity.
Cloudpassage created their own grading standards and reviewed 122 computer science programs. Out of the top 10 computer science programs in the country, not one program scored an A.
Of all 122 schools, only three schools make students take one cybersecurity course. The University of Alabama was the only school that required students to take three cybersecurity courses before graduation.
Computer science programs view cybersecurity as a “fun elective” and not a necessary requirement,. The perspective on the importance of cybersecurity courses must change in order to give incentives to students to learn more to help close the gap in this growing field.
Free Resources Outside of the Classroom
Many business owners and individuals want to learn more cybersecurity for the sake of their personal and company data. Luckily, there are plenty of credible tutorials and programs that teach the fundamentals of cybersecurity.
Catch our next blog post “Macate’s Favorite Cybersecurity Learning Tools” and see which program works best for you!