A Gap Between Millennials and Cybersecurity Education

With the news of large companies like J.P. Morgan, Sony, Apple and Dow Jones succumbing to cyber-attacks, cybersecurity has been the buzz word in news and corporate budgets for the past two years. Although governments are taking strides in enforcing cybersecurity responsibility on neglectful companies and launching campaigns to increase national cybersecurity awareness, cybersecurity is still in its infancy stage. Many universities do not have dedicated programs — let alone primary schools teaching children about what cybersecurity actually is. Many of the industry’s present experts were educated in the field — not in traditional school settings, resulting in a monopolization of knowledge.

There are multiple problems with exclusive hands-on training in companies. Besides the education not being available widely available — thus allowing large companies like Google, Microsoft and Google maintain competitive advantages, students do not have the opportunity to learn about the field and therefore pursue cybersecurity careers. According to a study by Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance, 69% of young adults were not offered classes needed to pursue a cybersecurity career, let alone a cybersecurity degree. The industry is currently run by a select few, and often recruits older, more seasoned talent as opposed to raising a younger workforce.

In addition, no one is initiating conversations with young adults about cybersecurity. Thirty percent of millennials actually said that no one in their lives have spoken to them about cyber security, and only twenty-three percent said that someone other than their parents spoke to them about it. These millennials have the skillsets needed for cybersecurity careers as a large majority of them are searching for jobs that require: problem solving, data analysis, or programming — just to name a few. So, to close the knowledge gap between these potential cybersecurity professionals and the industry, we need to start making a few changes in both corporations and education systems.

Companies need to start internship programs that recruit in universities. This way, millennials will have opportunities to learn about the cybersecurity industry as well as have hands-on experience in the field.

Universities need to offer curriculums and majors that concentrate on cybersecurity. Recently, Georgia Tech just launched a cybersecurity institute that will focus on growing the industry by connecting industry and government experts — allowing the field to increase its academic presence.

Children need to be taught about cybersecurity and programming at a young age. Currently, less than a quarter of American schools actually teach computer science — with even less having any programs focused on cybersecurity. If students start learning about good cyber hygiene from a young age, then not only will they be more prepared for the future job market, but they will also be more prepared to combat cyber-attacks.

If companies want to prevent future cyberattacks, they need to start looking towards the future. They cannot continue to focus on the present and not invest in educating our youth about cybersecurity. Raytheon’s study proved that our youth is potentially interested in cybersecurity, but no one is piquing their curiosity. So, in order to increase our cybersecurity defenses, we need to look outside solely developing stronger mitigation tools and look to educating our youth about the growing importance of cybersecurity.

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