At the same time that organizations take in the message that they better get serious about their cybersecurity policies and protections, some are finding that they need to hire staff, consultants or service providers who have the skills and the wherewithal to stay on top of rapidly changing threats.
But it can be easier said than done. A recent Ernst & Young survey found that “about 52 percent of the more than 1,800 organizations surveyed expect security budgets to increase, compared to 43 percent whose budgets will remain unchanged. More than half of firms identified the lack of skilled professionals as a major reason for their inability to bolster system security.”
In other words, as IT Business Edge’s Sue Marquette Poremba explained, “as security threats rise, the lack of skilled security professionals continues at a pretty steady pace.”
When I talked to Co-Founder Ryan Corey last week about the launch of Cybrary.IT, the first massive open online course (MOOC) to offer beginning and advanced cybersecurity courses at no cost to students, he identified several underlying factors in this trend that might not be easily apparent.
“I have a lot of reasons that wanted to do this [Cybrary.IT]. One is the developing nations angle, then my years working in the paid IT training industry. During that time, I ran into a lot of people in certain situations. Some people are or could easily be very qualified. They currently work in non-tech fields, and when they look into going into cybersecurity, they realize they’ll need to pay $2500 for class plus $500 for a certification, for an entry-level job. Because the initial cost is too high, these people are prevented from going into IT.”
And that’s not the only difficulty that folks who could otherwise have fulfilling cybersecurity careers face.
“Some people,” says Corey, “could afford the initial cost, but if they went into the likely entry-level job in IT, they would go backward from their present salary levels, and that won’t work.”
Others need flexibility to experiment and perhaps change course.
“Some people know the allure of IT and IT security, they know it pays well and it’s a rising area, and they become interested because they don’t have that in their current careers. They don’t have much upward mobility. They may have the money for classes, but get halfway through and find it’s not for them. That outlay of money then sets them back. Cybrary.IT addresses those folks, too, who are saying to themselves, ‘I think I want to get into this field.’”
Each student can plan his or her own course; Cybrary.IT describes a common path for a beginner this way:
“Cybrary courses prepare students for certification. And while course completion alone won’t lead to employment, the content is designed to provide students with the skills required to do so. Typically, a student begins with CompTIA A+ and Network+. These courses provide fundamental knowledge about IT and cyber security. Employers hiring for entry level IT jobs typically look for candidates with those certifications. After completing A+ and Network+, for example, students will be far more knowledgeable about what type of IT career or advancement is right for them.”
Corey sees Cybrary.IT as the beginning of a trend in tech education that will break down the barriers to entry and allow enthusiastic and talented people to enter the field of cybersecurity, where they are sorely needed.
Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+