Imagine a world without the police force. Who would you call if your house was broken into? Now imagine your laptop has been hacked. Who would you call? You wouldn’t call Apple, or Verizon; after all, you would not call your realtor after a break in.
Cybersecurity is a huge talking point right now – the market for it is massive; employers are constantly looking for more people to hire. With all its current popularity, a career in cybersecurity is a great option for kids who are not necessarily in the highest economic sectors. According to Steve Morgan’s Cybersecurity Business Report on csoonline.com, the amount of cyber crime is estimated to triple the amount of unfulfilled cybersecurity jobs, which is predicted to reach 3.5 million by 2021. Similar to other big technology topics, the field is mostly male, with only 11% of the workforce being female.
Schools around the country are adapting to the current emphasis on learning computer science by building or enhancing computer science programs in their districts. But what about cybersecurity? On Tuesday August 14th, Building Computer Science Education Capacity in NJ (BuildingCSNJ) hosted a cybersecurity professional development class. The workshop was led by Mandy Galante, who instructed teachers on how to use CyberStart, a program for students that allows them to learn about cybersecurity while they are playing games and completing challenges. It was overall a fun and productive day, resulting in many of the teachers leaving feeling confident that they could pass some of their cybersecurity knowledge onto their students.
When we are teaching cybersecurity, we are “saving the world,” said Mandy. “Everything that goes wrong is because humans [make] a mistake… We are putting people in place to protect us.” Similar to a new generation police force, the more people we make aware of the threats to our security, the more people there will be to step up if those threats become real. In the words of Lt. Christopher M Kay, the NJSP Cyber Threat Intelligence Unit Head for the New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC), we are creating a “culture of awareness. Cyber crime is a huge business, and it will increase over time.”
It is pretty simple: we desperately need more numbers in the field, and teaching students about cyber security will only help fulfill that need. While the future may not require a cyber police force, the more people trained in the subject, the better prepared we will be to prevent future cyber attacks. Teachers are encouraged to delve into cybersecurity in the classroom. “You have to get over being intimidated. Nobody knows it before teaching it,” said Mandy. BuildingCSNJ’s initiative is just one step in the grand staircase leading to a wide range of cybersecurity education and opportunities for students all around the country. It is time to make the cyber world a safer place.