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CHIPS Articles: Looking for a brighter future? Consider a cybersecurity career

Looking for a brighter future? Consider a cybersecurity career
By CHIPS Magazine - October 27, 2017
Uninspired in your current job or trying to decide on your future education and career path? The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is urging America’s youth, educators and existing workforce to explore the many educational and professional development avenues available to those seeking an exciting career in the cybersecurity field.

The cybersecurity workforce demand far exceeds the available workforce; employment opportunities abound in the private sector as well as government. You only have to glance at the news headlines to see that cyberattacks continue unabated throughout business and government networks while consumer trust in the critical systems that underpin our nation continues to erode, according to a release by NCSA. The “ Securing Our Future: Cybersecurity and the Millennial Workforce” study released by Raytheon and Forcepoint, in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance, reveals that 43 percent of young Americans believe cyberattacks influenced the 2016 election results. The study — now in its fifth year — further explores millennials’ attitudes about careers in cybersecurity and what they are and are not doing to stay safer and more secure online.

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education’s 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study predicts there will be a cybersecurity workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022. The shortage of professionals protecting the nation’s extensive networks poses a significant risk to U.S. economic and national security. Attracting young people to join the next generation of skilled cyber workers and training existing employees in cybersecurity are starting points to building stronger defenses across the internet’s borderless landscape.

As National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) — a widespread online safety awareness and education initiative co-founded and led by NCSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — nears its end, NCSA is encouraging students and professionals to explore the assortment of options that cybersecurity offers as a sustainable and fulfilling profession. Role models and key influencers like parents, teachers, counselors and government officials are urged to educate this group about the exciting careers in cybersecurity and the pathways to pursuing them.

“A highly skilled and motivated cybersecurity workforce is just as critical to the internet’s future as new and emerging technologies,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director in the release. “A career protecting the internet — a global resource we all share — can be extremely rewarding, matched with interests in a specific sector like finance, health or government and highly portable, as industries around the globe need competent help.”

Cybersecurity careers also provide opportunities to use a variety of skills — like problem-solving, communication, management, data analysis and software programming — and offer competitive salaries, challenging work and a variety of positions and opportunities. Check out the latest NCSAM infographic (seen at right) for more information about the benefits of a career in cybersecurity and resources to help guide you on the path to working in this rewarding field. Download and share it on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware!

Fortunately, the majority of millennials has favorable outlooks — and access to resources — about cybersecurity programs; the study indicates the following:

  • 83 percent said that it’s important, very important or extremely important to strengthen cybersecurity awareness programs in the workforce as well as in formal education programs.
  • 70 percent reported that their high school or secondary education programs prepared them to use technology safely, securely, ethically and productively in the workplace — up from 55 percent in 2013.

Unfortunately, interest among many millennials in learning about cybersecurity and access to cyber-education has not translated to always using proper cyber hygiene. Exhibiting poor cybersecurity practices could spell danger not just for young adults’ accounts and information but also for their employers. The survey reveals there are several important security actions young adults reported not taking, despite thinking they should, such as:

  • Updating software/apps quickly when notified of updates (55%).
  • Using two-step authentication (57%).
  • Avoiding clicking on links unless they are sure they’re legitimate (63%).
  • Limiting the sharing of personal information online (60%).
  • Using a different password for every key account (54%).
  • 77 percent reported connecting to no-password Wi-Fi in the last month — up from 66 percent in 2013.
  • 42 percent said they had shared passwords with non-family members in the last year — up from 23 percent in 2013.

Despite the positive trends in young people’s awareness and education, there is still work to be done to encourage action and behavioral change when it comes to individuals’ cybersecurity habits and interests in working to protect the internet. NCSA’s free online safety resources — including tip sheets, posters, infographics and videos — can help people teach themselves, their families and friends and their communities about online safety, security and privacy basics. In particular, this primer can help parents and educators guide young people as they consider cybersecurity careers.

NCSA will be conducting a variety of Facebook Live interviews that will provide intriguing perspectives about careers in cybersecurity. Catch them throughout the week at https://www.facebook.com/staysafeonline.

Working in cybersecurity is about protecting the internet — a critical resource we all depend on. If you haven’t thought about a cybersecurity career, here are some things to consider.
Working in cybersecurity is about protecting the internet — a critical resource we all depend on. If you haven’t thought about a cybersecurity career, here are some things to consider.
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