2014 Archives

Defense Against the Dark Arts (of Cyberspace)


The following is from the May 29, 2014, edition of IEEE Spectrum. Sukumaran Nair, chair of SMU's Computer Science and Engineering Department, provided expertise for this story.

May 30, 2014

By Prachi Patel

In an increasingly networked world, security attacks have become not just more frequent and sophisticated but also more financially damaging. The silver lining is the growing need for cybersecurity experts. Information security analyst jobs are expected to grow by 37 percent by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Every time there’s a new breach anywhere, a light goes on in some C-suite office and it opens up hiring,” says Ernest McDuffie, who leads the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Consequently, more and more institutions now offer specialized master’s degrees in cybersecurity. Big names like IBM and Intel are collaborating with schools to keep security curricula up to date. “Today many companies are educating their workforce on their own,” says Marisa Viveros, vice president of IBM’s Cybersecurity Innovation Program. “But we also need universities to take that in a formal, programmatic manner and teach principles and fundamentals.” The NICE initiative, meanwhile, hopes to improve awareness and education and lists over 180 higher-education facilities as cybersecurity centers of academic excellence. . .

Indeed, the biggest challenge academic programs face might be getting enough interest. A survey by defense company Raytheon found that less than one-quarter of young adults in the United States believed a cybersecurity career is interesting at all.

One solution is to simply get the career on students’ radar, says Sukumaran Nair, chair of the computer science and engineering department at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. In the Raytheon survey, 82 percent of respondents say that no high school teacher or guidance counselor ever mentioned the idea of a career in cybersecurity. “Once it’s clear to fresh grads from high school that this area will guarantee jobs, it’s very likely that they’ll choose this line of education,” Nair says. “Universities are well prepared to train them.”

Read the full story.

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