Class is in Session: The Importance of Cybersecurity Education

Not to scare you…but the World Economic Forum 2023 Cybersecurity Outlook report concluded that 93% of security leaders believe the rocky state of global geopolitics could lead to a major cyber event in the next two years. Catastrophes aside, ramping up cybersecurity efforts to protect critical infrastructure, business – you name it – is a crucial pursuit that we’re all aware of at this point. The key question is how to achieve it sustainably? A key answer is to take a proactive, forward-thinking approach. And a key tactic is education.


Integrating Cybersecurity Into K-12 Education

According to a survey conducted by EdWeek Research Center in 2020, about 41 percent of the 918 educators polled said that cybersecurity was included in their high school curriculum, while only 18 percent said it was offered as a standalone course. But the U.S. Department of Education and the White House National Security Council are out to change those numbers. They recently hosted a panel focused on cybersecurity education. Experts from federal agencies and companies such as Johnson & Johnson gathered to discuss what a career in cybersecurity can entail and why schools should provide access to these pathways.

“It’s a team sport. Somebody needs to write policy. Somebody needs to manage teams, somebody needs to provide support, somebody needs to buy hardware. So now there’s an entire ecosystem of jobs around cybersecurity,” said Gibran Rezavi, a senior advisor for cyber and digital assets at the Department of the Treasury. (Find more of Rezavi’s comments at Government Technology’s pick-up of Alyson Klein’s article for Education Week.)


Integrating Cybersecurity Into Professional Education

However, it doesn’t just come down to widening the scope of cybersecurity course work for students. Integrating cybersecurity education also includes professional education, whether that comes in the form of “upskilling” or “reskilling,” as the World Economic Forum terms it. For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a series of new resources designed to assist healthcare organizations enhance their cybersecurity. The resources are available through Knowledge on Demand, an online education and training platform. Fierce Healthcare reports that users can turn to the platform to learn more about ransomware, attacks against network-connected medical devices (FYI: DYNICS can also help you protect these devices), and more.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has taken steps to expand cybersecurity professional development as well. The VA is prepping for its federal cybersecurity apprenticeship program, which is set to launch this summer. According to Edward Graham at Nextgov, the program’s goal is to “provide underserved veterans with the training needed to safeguard personal data and IT systems from an array of cyber threats.” While this year’s cohort is only available to a limited number of participants, Nathan Tierney, the VA’s chief people officer and deputy chief information officer, states that he hopes to open it to more in the future.


Problem Solving with Education

So, why is enhancing cybersecurity education so important? If the points mentioned above highlight anything, it’s that cybersecurity education creates opportunity – opportunity to train the current and next generation of experts, and opportunity to solve some of the field’s most glaring issues, including the talent shortage. Close to 70% of security leaders say that the lack of cybersecurity skills puts their organizations at additional risk. You never know who could develop the next game-changing cybersecurity solution. By investing in education, though, we do know that we could be opening the door for the minds that may do so.


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