Cybersecurity class is in session: Schools add security to the curriculum

How about hacking your school’s computer lab for a grade?

Attention computer nerds! Your country needs you! One of the reasons threats like malware can be tough to break is the cybersecurity skills gap. While there may currently be a lack of skilled professionals in the computer security arena, cyber criminals won’t have long before they’ll have to up their game, thanks to some initiatives underway.

The main issue that needs to be tackled is that an estimated less than 10 percent of the necessary skilled cybersecurity professionals are currently in the workplace. Several experts will be gathering to discuss ways of handling the knowledge gap, including: Jim Duffey, Virginia Secretary of Technology; Dr. Ernest McDuffie, lead for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Karen Evans, National Director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge are planning a discussion on cybersecurity.

The discussion will tackle issues such as whether colleges should receive incentives for making security a core part of their programming courses. In addition to discussing these issues, Virginia Tech is making an effort to increase cybersecurity knowledge by hosting a cyber summer camp June 25-29. The camp will include workshops on topics such as penetration testing, reverse engineering and forensics. The camp will end with a virtual capture-the-flag competition, in which the winning team will receive $1,000 scholarships. Not too shabby for summer camp.

More cybersecurity education

Virginia Tech isn’t the only university with security coming into the curriculum. The University of Maryland announced plans to launch the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students program, according to a recent GovInfoSecurity article.

“The idea is to challenge the best minds to be solvers of cybersecurity problems,” said Dr. Michael Hicks, director for the Cybersecurity Center at the University of Maryland, who was quoted in the article.

According to Hicks, the ACES program is designed to give students a greater understanding of of the policy and business implications of cybersecurity. The program will feature hands-on exercises to teach students how to identify website vulnerabilities, even allowing students to attack the university’s own computer system.

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.