Building the Cyber Security Work Force

Sue Marquette Poremba
Slide Show

Top 10 Cyber Security Threats of 2011 and Beyond

The next decade portends new threats that surpass those of years past in both intensity and impact.

Last week, I pointed out how Symantec's 2011 Threat Management Survey revealed the impact having good security personnel has on network security. The survey also mentioned that a high percentage of IT security departments said they struggle to find and retain qualified employees.

I promoted the idea that IT security departments and enterprises consider developing internships so college students majoring in network security and similar programs can acquire some real-life experience before they begin the job hunt. But creating internships isn't the only idea out there.

Thanks to a $1 million grant, the University of Akron Wayne College's Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development will provide training on network security skills to displaced workers and unemployed students. The grant is part of a $5 million grant from the Department of Labor and is shared with other Ohio colleges to offer training for in-demand skills. The Wayne College grant will provide training and cover the cost of certification testing. To get accepted into the program, however, potential students have to have significant computer skills.

Based on Symantec's findings, the quote from Wayne College's director of continuing education and work force development, Amy Mast, was very telling. She told the Wooster Daily Record:

Due to the threat of cyber attacks and security breaches, the field of network security is expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, with a projected growth of 20 percent over a 10-year period. Many small to medium-size companies in Wayne College's service area have trouble filling these critical positions.

While Mast is looking to help the unemployed move toward new - and much needed - security careers, Maryland officials are targeting kids in order to get them thinking about security careers before they graduate high school. The two-day Maryland Cyber Challenge and Conference was, according to The Baltimore Sun, part career fair and part talent show for both high school and college students interested in computer-related careers. The attendees had the chance to meet with recruiters from high-tech companies and defense contractors, plus they were able to participate in a cyber challenge. As The Baltimore Sun pointed out:

The college students had to hack into a computer, gain control and rummage through files for valuable information. The high-schoolers were required to defend six computer servers against attacks by cunning computer professionals seated across the room.

Cyber challenges like this aren't anything new, but in Maryland, the push was to get young people interested in cyber security (and other high-tech) careers. I loved this quote by a Maryland teenager, who totally gets the importance of cyber security in the real world:

I love attacking, especially if you know who you're attacking; it's fun. But defending your site means more. It's more important. It means you've done your job.

Here's to hoping that many more people want to "defend" their own site.

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