National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October is the perfect time to reflect on what you’re doing to overcome the cybersecurity skills shortage. That’s right – you – personally. According to Dr. Jane LeClair, COO for the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College, the cybersecurity skills shortage is everyone’s problem, and we all have a responsibility to meet this need.
Dr. LeClair believes that in order to shore up the workforce, it’s essential to broaden the pool of candidates beyond typical populations (such as the military and IT). Dr. LeClair sees cybersecurity awareness – both its impact on our daily lives and as a career opportunity – as the perfect vehicle to achieve this.
So, rather than providing courses only to people who are pursuing a formal cybersecurity education and are on a professional track, the NCI offers both career-oriented education AND informal awareness courses and content.
By combining public awareness of cybersecurity issues with career-oriented education, the NCI is hoping to attract as many people as possible to the field. Through robust (often free) courses, such as “Introduction to Cybersecurity,” monthly webcasts and a daily blog, they are hoping to give people a voice to discuss issues that are important to them and an outlet for increasing their knowledge. Dr. LeClair challenges, “If cybersecurity is so vital in our daily lives, shouldn’t we all be doing everything we can to help?”
She states, “People can get complacent, so it’s important that we keep cybersecurity in front of them and keep it fresh. We know people are interested in these issues, and the informal learning piece helps them continue to learn as the industry changes.”
NCI’s ultimate goal is to teach people to like cybersecurity, whether they go on to pursue a career or just have their cybersecurity consciousness elevated. Dr. LeClair asserts, “Cybersecurity is a lifelong, daily learning opportunity. We want people to develop a personal enjoyment and passion for it in order to be strong, lifelong learners.”
The NCI is tackling the issue both from the bottom up and the top down. Through their MBA cybersecurity program, they aim to raise awareness at a managerial level. Dr. LeClair believes organizations have a deep need to realize how important cybersecurity is and that if management embraces the message, it will trickle down to all employees.
These programs are gaining a lot of traction, and Dr. LeClair knows they’re on to something. So, they’ve ramped up their National Cybersecurity Awareness Month efforts this year:
- Offer daily podcasts.
- Post a different game every day.
- Offer a free, live event on cyber law and cyber insurance.
- Post one case study per week that people can use within their organizations to get discussions going about cybersecurity.
It’s easy to think that by avoiding those links that could crash your company’s network and not falling for those emails from Nigerian princes, you’re doing enough. But what if we all had cybersecurity awareness ingrained in us? What if children began learning about cybersecurity as a career option early in school? What if cybersecurity education was accessible to ALL people, rather than just an elite group already on the path to a lifelong cybersecurity career? We could actually improve the global cybersecurity situation. For more information on the GAP, please visit https://www.isc2.org/global-academic-program/default.aspx or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.