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NCSAM - Dialing in on Cybersecurity Education

October 12, 2017 | Payton Bush

“The security aspect of cyber is very tough. And maybe, it’s hardly doable...We have so many things we need to be doing better...And certainly cyber is one of them.”

During the 2016 Presidential debates, Presidential candidate Donald Trump expressed his concern at the state of our Nation’s cyber readiness. It’s a concern shared by many government entities. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partnered with organizations in the public and private sectors to create events and initiatives to educate the populace on the importance of cybersecurity. Every October since has been National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), in which tools and resources are shared in the hopes of keeping people safer online.

Each week of the month has a theme aimed at different areas of cybersecurity. This year’s are listed below, along with some resources that we’ve created that fall under these categories.

Week 1 (Oct 2nd - 6th) - Simple Steps to Online Safety

Six Ways to Help Improve your Security Posture

Week 2 (Oct 9th - 13th) - Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business

Improve Security Through People in Four Simple Steps

Why Brand Monitoring is a Security Issue - Compromised Credentials

Week 3 (Oct 16th - 20th) - Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet

What the Equifax Breach means for the Social Security Number System

How Ransomware has become an ‘Ethical’ Dilemma in the Eastern European Underground

Week 4 (Oct 23rd - 27th) - The Internet Wants YOU: Consider a Career in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

The Road Less Traveled - Building a Career in Cyberthreat Intelligence

Anomali Begins Education Outreach Initiative

This last one is perhaps the most challenging due to just how relatively new of a field cybersecurity is. There’s no direct path of education that leads to the careers within the industry and no common knowledge for how those career paths typically unfold. The more traditional avenues are to come from a computer science or networking background, but it’s not uncommon to hear that most people found their way here somewhat haphazardly.

However people may find themselves within the industry though, it’s clear that hiring and training isn’t happening quickly enough. By 2021 there will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs. Educational institutions, the private and public sectors, and government organizations can all do their part to help prevent such a drastic shortage. Universities, for example, could help streamline the hiring process by offering a dedicated cybersecurity major covering both the tactical (aimed at operations) and strategic (analysts) elements of the field.

At Anomali we’ve tried to bridge this career gap by reaching out beyond the confines of the internet and speaking at local high school computer sciences classes. We’d like to expand next to speaking at local colleges. Our employees asked students what they knew about security, spoke about how they came to the position they are currently at, and what benefits they saw for students if they chose to pursue a career in security.

It’s a message that we should all be trying to relate. Security positions can be practiced from any location, job security is ensured, and salaries can be high. What might help to inspire students and simultaneously educate the populace is for more organizations to provide real world examples to how cyber threats originate, advance, and are mitigated. It might not be easy to convince a company to explain how they were breached, but giving people concrete examples rather than the Hollywood, “I’m hacking the mainframe,” helps them to understand how real that threat may be in relation to how they interact with technology and the internet.

It’s not something that can be solved in a month or even a year, but every resource we contribute and all the time we invest in one another will help keep us safer. It’s up to all of us, at every level, to contribute.

Payton Bush
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Payton Bush

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