Cybersecurity is a global issue. It permeates everything from our elections to our electric grid, but while attackers get more sophisticated, the number of defenders are in increasingly short supply. According to industry projections, there will be a global shortage of 3.5 million security practitioners by 2021. So that poses the question, “How do we ensure that the systems and networks on which we rely are safeguarded by properly trained cybersecurity professionals?”
Education is the best tool in our inventory that can be leveraged against these trends. With the introduction of cybersecurity merit badges, the Girl Scouts proved no one is too young to start learning about security. The popular online game Fortnite took the unorthodox approach of rewarding players who activated two-factor authentication. In the world of higher education, schools like the University of Texas at San Antonio have begun heavily investing in formalized cybersecurity programs, while independent organizations have begun compiling lists of the top schools for security degrees. But, this is only the beginning of how we can prepare for the threats of an uncertain future.
Chronicle is partnering with lifelong learning company Udacity. Working hand in hand, we’ve helped create a new online program targeting existing cybersecurity professionals, as well as those looking to enter the cybersecurity field. The program is available for enrollment today, with the first classes going live on October 30.
The six-month program (which is divided into two terms) will teach students concepts as low-level as network protocols and as high-level as cloud infrastructure. It dives deep into more specialized topics such as identity and access control, secure coding, and log management. While lessons will be heavily focused around cloud security architectures, they’ll also cover realistic scenarios found in today’s diverse environments that bridge on premises and cloud environments.
Udacity’s Nanodegree program fills a major gap in our industry. By allowing passionate individuals to further their education from anywhere, on their own time, enrollees will be able to focus on the areas that will help them most. In the field of cybersecurity, where vocational schools are virtually non-existent, compact programs like the ones offered by Udacity are well regarded and viable routes to employment in the industry.
Unlike traditional curricula, Udacity’s Nanodegree programs allow students to dive into subjects that are only emerging topics of interest at most universities. This is because Udacity moves at the pace of a startup, not an institution. In the realm of cybersecurity, this distinction couldn’t be more important. The threats organizations face are constantly evolving to counter defenses in near real time. Providing timely, relevant, and thorough training is vital today and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. Udacity’s approach to education fills that need.
While all students are invited to participate in the program we’re announcing today, the program does require some pre-requisite technical knowledge. Instructors recommend participants have a general understanding of networking, cloud infrastructure, and familiarity with the basics of both Linux and Python.
In this day and age, when our reliance on networked systems is higher than ever and the gap between talent and demand is growing faster and faster, cross-industry collaboration is critical to the future of our society. The time to address this problem is now, and this partnership with Udacity will take us one step closer to achieving our common goal.
Mike Wiacek, Chronicle co-founder & CSO