Universities Could be Key to Developing Cyber Professionals

POSTED MAY 24, 2016

A special to USLAW NETWORK and USLAW DigiKnow

By Karen Painter Randall, Connell Foley LLP, Roseland, New Jersey

Educational institutions and their curricula have been thought to be a missed opportunity to develop cybersecurity professionals capable of combatting cybercrimes.  According to a recent study by CloudPassage, most schools earn a failing grade when it comes to teaching and honing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

The study investigated the practices of some of the highest-ranked technology universities around the country to determine how many and what kind of cybersecurity related classes were offered or required by each. The results demonstrated an overall lack of course offerings, let alone, required courses, related to cybersecurity.  In fact, only one school required a cybersecurity class to graduate.

“There needs to be a fundamental shift in the cybersecurity paradigm; we must get to a point where every university requires computer science majors to complete cybersecurity training as a graduation requirement, so that the programmers and developers of the next generation have security front-of-mind when delivering products to market,” says Robert Thomas, CEO of CloudPassage.

However, the study illustrates that cybersecurity is not a priority for most schools — even those with top-rated computer science programs. In contrast, cybersecurity is quickly becoming a priority for organizations. There’s a growing gap, then, of the skillset that today’s businesses are seeking and the skillset being cultivated by universities. Additionally, cybercriminals and the crimes they commit are becoming more advanced.

“Curricula are not updated often enough (and in technology, the world is changing very rapidly), there may be politics, staffing difficulties, lack of budget, and so on. There are many factors at play in how programs are developed, but what we must focus on is how to enable universities to set up their students with the tools they need to be successful professionally. We are hoping that exposure of the problem and increased discussion will start the wheels turning in the right direction,” Thomas says.

In today’s evolving technological world, most people use their smart devices to access highly sensitive data, such as banking accounts and healthcare information.  Additionally, these devices often contain a trove of personal data including emails, messages, and photographs.  While this new technology has made access to this data much more readily available, it also increases the risk of a cyberattack. Accordingly, universities are missing an opportunity to supply the job market with the cybersecurity professionals to address this growing area.

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