The cybersecurity landscape is changing rapidly. The challenges of security education and training in 2021 are vastly different from what they were just a few years ago.
In the last few years, cybersecurity has become an increasingly important issue. The number of cyberattacks is expected to grow in 2021 as remote working conditions due to COVID continue to expand. The risk has increased so much that some experts predict the average American will have their data breached at least once in 2021. Many major companies already feel a sense of urgency about this issue as they prepare for 2021 and beyond.
An increasing number of smart devices simultaneously increase attack vectors as more people are turning to remote work, which means that cybersecurity education and training will be pivotal in 2021. A lack of skilled instructors compounds the problem: many organizations struggle with finding qualified staff, while new entrants to the field can’t find jobs or internships due to the high demand for experienced professionals.
The number and complexity of vulnerabilities are also increasing exponentially, with hackers exploiting security gaps faster than people can fix them.
The following blog post examines how we can best prepare for this future by looking at some challenges that are already beginning to come into view today.
The topics covered in this blog are
Importance of Cybersecurity Education.
The challenges of cybersecurity education and training in 2021 are very realistic. The skills gap is not only apparent within the industry but among all levels of society. With a rapidly evolving threat landscape that includes cyber terrorism, ransomware attacks, APT (Advanced Persistent Threats), many other threats to individual privacy and security, and major infrastructure, the need for cybersecurity education and training is increasingly urgent.
Due to the skills gap, the problems will only continue with more complex cyber threats, so significant challenges must be addressed to ensure a safe society both online and offline.
The availability of resources among students within the educational system varies drastically according to geographical location or socioeconomic status. The most vulnerable citizens are those with a low socioeconomic status, which is true for cybersecurity education and other education types.
Importance of Continuous Cybersecurity Training.
The importance of cybersecurity training is widely recognized, with it being seen as pivotal to securing the safe and reliable operation of networks and information systems. The rapid pace at which technology evolves makes it difficult for most people in organizations, including those tasked with defending them from cyber-attacks, to keep up without regular refresher courses.
Without knowing how to recognize a threat in the first place, how can an employee report it or eliminate it? According to the State of IT Security 2019. The most common entry point for phishers remains employees, even though firewalls and other security software are in place.
Additionally, as the company grows, the number of entry points also increases. Cybersecurity training online makes employees more resistant to threats and attacks to protect the company and its employees.
The objective of the training is to prepare employees with an up-to-date understanding of the threats cyberspace poses. You strengthen the most vulnerable link in the chain by training employees to identify and eliminate cyber threats. As a result, the phishers will be willing to move on to other people’s waters, as they’ll have no fish to catch with bait in your waters.
How Can Every Organization Benefit From Security Awareness Training?
The challenge of security awareness training is not a new one. The need for this type of training has existed since the beginning of the technological era and will never cease to exist just as long as there are people in this world who don’t understand how to protect themselves from cyber threats.
The problem with cybersecurity education and training isn’t so much that there isn’t enough of it, but rather that the content is outdated and not presented in a way that can be easily consumed by those who need to learn more about cybersecurity for their jobs. The question of how to educate and train organizations on security is not an easy one, but new methods are being explored.
The challenge of cybersecurity education and training is two-fold: providing the right content for those who need it and making that information understandable. The best way to handle this issue would be by having more interactive training modules that are designed to teach the learner how to protect themselves.
The more interactive these modules can be, the better off we’ll all be in a world where cybercrime is rampant, and just about every industry will need some degree of cybersecurity education and training.
Topics You Should Cover in Employee Security Training include:
1) Forms of Cybersecurity Threats
There are many forms of cybersecurity threats that organizations face in the modern world. The most common types will be viruses, spyware, and malware, but there are other more complex ones as well.
The best way to protect against these attacks is by having a solid defense system coupled with an educated workforce who understands what can happen when they click on something they weren’t quite expecting. The key to a strong defense depends on understanding the threat landscape and protecting against it beforehand.
2) Threats to Cybersecurity and How to Report Them.
Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving. The internet is becoming more and more integral in our day-to-day lives, with the use of smartphones and the Internet of Things (IoT) exploding. According to Cisco, 500 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2030. The complexity that this brings can make an already complex field even more challenging to understand.
It is important to include this in your cybersecurity education, as understanding these threats and the tools to combat them is crucial. The best way for organizations to address this is by providing continuous cybersecurity training programs to help employees keep up-to-date with constantly evolving skill sets and technology.
3) Password Security.
This is also an important topic to tackle. The most important part of password security is to make it difficult for hackers by using a different password on all sites, and not sharing them with anyone.
The second rule when creating or changing passwords should be to use strong passwords: more than 20 characters long, including at least one number, capital letter, and symbol (@#$%^&*()_+|). The third rule should be to change passwords regularly, which is every few months.
It is also highly recommended to take advantage of a Password manager.
4) Social Media, Email, and Internet Policies.
One of the significant challenges in cybersecurity education and training is social media, email, and internet policies. The majority of employees use these platforms daily to communicate with co-workers or their clients. The challenge that this brings is how to have an open conversation about cybercrime prevention without fearing backlash from victims who may feel like they are being controlled. The other challenge that this brings is the need to respect user privacy, finding the right balance between having an open dialogue with clients, co-workers or users about protecting themselves while at the same time not making it seem like their privacy is being invaded.
Some organizations offer their employees social media guidelines, including safety tips on privacy, personal security, and phishing scams. The challenge with this is to make sure that everyone follows these guidelines and that these guidelines apply to all the different types of platforms.
The other issue is the lack of awareness about cybersecurity education and training among employees who need it most. The most common type of training offered to employees is the annual security awareness program. The problem with this is that it only lasts for a few hours and is usually very high-level and broad, which does not provide enough time or detail to cover how cybercrime can affect oneself as well as family and friends.
The Need to Modernize Cybersecurity Education.
The need to modernize cybersecurity education is evident. The next generation of cyber professionals is being educated in the digital age. This gives them a unique advantage when it comes to understanding how information technology works and its associated risks on an international level.
The world has changed from one where people were only connected via text messages or telephone calls, but instead, a world in which social media platforms, applications and smart devices connect them. The younger generations have grown up with the internet as their primary source of information about themselves and their world.
The challenge for educators is ensuring that these young people receive adequate training on cybersecurity issues to secure their own protection online while also ensuring that other computers, networks, and devices are not being compromised in the process. The best way to do this is by presenting them with hands-on cybersecurity education that they can apply when they leave the classroom or lab setting.
The need for modernization on an educational level has been evident for a long time. The challenge now is making sure that current and future generations are educated on topics that will be of fundamental importance for the rest of their lives.
The development of this perspective can be achieved through internship programs that provide real-world lessons on cyber roles to senior-level students. This method can develop a firm understanding of what cyber defense is all about: risk mitigation. Students working in enterprises recognize that every company faces threat overload and cannot prevent every fire at once.
While doing this, they have the opportunity to apply their cyber skills to real systems while gaining new skills in fields outside their formal curriculum. Because the threat landscape changes so rapidly, focusing on tactical nuances of specific tools is no longer feasible in the educational system.
To provide students with effective cybersecurity training, they must understand risk management concepts, have a solid and extensive technical foundation, and take part in internship or apprenticeship programs.
Several high-level changes can be made to the way we provide cybersecurity education to address this disconnect:
1) Management of the Problem Is Always Necessary.
Students should start their first cyber course by realizing this is an endless problem because it’s impossible to solve. A perfect technical solution can often not be implemented due to financial constraints, a lack of staff, time, or hassle.
The most important skill is to identify and prioritize risks so that scarce mitigation resources can be allocated wisely.
2) Communication Is Vital for Resolving Problems.
The ability to communicate with your company and stakeholders is essential for resolving future cybersecurity problems. The average person can’t comprehend the complexities of securing a network, but they do understand their personal experiences.
They can use communication as tools when talking about how they feel about an issue or offer suggestions on how something could be better. The more you know about your company and stakeholders, the better you can communicate with them.
3) IT and Cyber Security Are Not Distinct Disciplines.
IT and cybersecurity are not distinct disciplines in the current industry landscape. The evolution of IT over time has resulted in it becoming a crucial component for all organizations, from small businesses to multinationals with sprawling networks.
The infinite number of points that connect information systems means that no network is truly secure and needs to be managed effectively through processes and policies.
The key to this management is people. The increasing demand for qualified individuals in IT has led to an increased emphasis on cybersecurity education at higher education levels.
There are over 20 qualifying programs that offer degrees or certificates related to cybersecurity within a university setting alone, which means there are plenty of choices for getting an education in IT and cybersecurity. The problem is that these programs are not always available to those who need them most or for the necessary duration required by different individuals.
Challenges of Cybersecurity Education and Training.
The cyber-world is constantly changing and evolving. The challenge for training the next generation of cybersecurity professionals will not be in what to teach them, but how to teach them. The types of skills needed today may be obsolete tomorrow as new technologies emerge from innovations like artificial intelligence (AI).
The National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education defines cybersecurity education as an ongoing process of building awareness, knowledge, and skills among practitioners to enable them to make decisions that enhance cybersecurity.
The Initiative recognizes the need for a robust ecosystem of stakeholders – including government, industry, academia, and others – coming together in partnerships spanning technical expertise with policy-making experience to advance cybersecurity training programs.
The National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education also recognizes a range of knowledge and skills needed to work in cybersecurity. The Initiative’s framework for cybersecurity education defines six levels. The goal is to graduate individuals who have achieved Level Six – or those with deep technical expertise across multiple facets of cybersecurity.
Some important focus areas for cybersecurity education and training include:
1) Technical Competence
The primary focus of cybersecurity education and training should be on technical competence. The most important knowledge that needs to be imparted to the student is how cyber attacks work so they can identify them before they occur, or in real-time if necessary.
The process of hacking is a complex one with many steps at each level of attack; understanding this will give students valuable insight into preventing such an attack from succeeding. The student will also need to discern what technical devices are being targeted and if any of their own systems or those belonging to the organization with which they work are vulnerable.
2) Perfecting the Fundamentals.
Knowing and mastering the fundamentals is key to building a strong cybersecurity foundation. The problem is that the foundations of most people’s understanding of technology and security aren’t very good, which results in them being unable to react properly when they do encounter real-life cyber threats.
The problem is worsened by the fact that there are no standards for cybersecurity curriculum, meaning what’s taught in one school could be completely different than a course offered at another institution.
Educators must first identify the gaps and teach students basic knowledge of security practices such as safe password management techniques and avoiding phishing scams to combat this issue.
3) Teaching Them the Skills.
The next step would be to start teaching them the skills and knowledge they need to become competent cybersecurity professionals by providing opportunities for student-led projects to tackle real-world scenarios in their school or community setting.
Ultimately, it’s crucial not just to focus on what students don’t know but also what they do know. The skills and knowledge that students already have can be used to more effectively prepare them for the future and anticipate their needs in a rapidly changing world of cybersecurity education and training.
Strategies That Can Be Used to Promote Cybersecurity Education and Training
The challenges of cybersecurity education and training in 2021 can be addressed by collaborating with experts from various industries to bring a multidisciplinary approach. The following are some strategies that can be used (not an exhaustive list):
1) Create a Cybersecurity Curriculum.
One strategy to address the cybersecurity education and training challenges would be to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity curriculum.
The curriculum would contain guidelines for standards-based cybersecurity education and training, including a list of standards, resources to assist with implementation, instructional strategies, curricular models, student achievement assessments, and a plan for addressing the needs of all learners.
The curriculum would also be aligned with national, state, or local standards to ensure it is meeting at least one regulatory requirement in each jurisdiction where it is used.
The benefits of such a cybersecurity education curriculum include:
- The ability to teach students new skills and knowledge through a variety of learning styles
- The ability to tailor cybersecurity education and training for the needs of diverse learners.
- The ability to efficiently scale up or down as needed with a curriculum that is already designed and ready to use in classrooms, labs, fieldwork sites, online courses, etc.
- The opportunity to meet regulatory requirements more effectively.
- The ability to measure student achievement.
- The opportunity for school districts, teachers, and students to be better prepared for the workforce of tomorrow.
2) Offer Scholarships to Students Who Want to Study Cybersecurity.
Offering scholarships for students interested in cybersecurity is one way to help meet the demand for cybersecurity experts in 2021. The scholarships could be offered to college students or high schoolers who are interested in pursuing the discipline.
The goal of the scholarship would be to help cover a portion of the cost and make it more feasible for people who want to pursue cybersecurity but cannot afford college or high school without financial assistance.
3) Provide Internships for Students With Companies That Deal in Cybersecurity.
Internships are an excellent way to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts and give students and young individuals a taste of what it would be like if they were working in this field.
The companies that offer internships have a vested interest in finding talent within their industry and will directly work with schools or universities to provide these opportunities. The internships can be local, regional, or national. The companies will vet the student organizations to ensure they are a good fit for their company and industry.
4) Provide Free Cybersecurity Resources to All Public Libraries.
Providing Free Cybersecurity resources to all public libraries is one of the most important things that we can do to improve the accessibility of cybersecurity training material. The more people who know about cyber threats and how to block them, the safer our society will be from their negative effects.
The need and challenges of cybersecurity education and training in 2021 are significant. The world is becoming more digitized, with the internet of things being widespread for various devices. The future challenges will be multifaceted as cybersecurity continues to evolve on multiple fronts – from technological advances to geopolitical concerns that may negatively affect data privacy and protection.
Cybersecurity education and training will need to be updated, improved, and made more accessible for the people tasked with protecting our data from bad actors. The challenges of cybersecurity education and training in 2021 are a multifaceted problem that won’t show any sign of slowing down anytime soon.
We hope that you found this blog post informative.
Interested in kickstarting your career in Cybersecurity no matter your educational background or experience? Click Here to find out.