Our growing dependence on the internet and the convenience of technology is not without its challenges. From smart phones and online banking to passwords, attackers are constantly trying to steal sensitive data and cripple systems. That’s driving the rising demand for highly trained cybersecurity professionals, especially as our digital economy becomes more complex. Here are four reasons why an education focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is beneficial to cybersecurity:
Develops a More Skilled Cyber Workforce
Now more than ever, our nation needs skilled professionals to protect against cyber attackers. Through innovative research, training and hands-on learning, STEM education can meet that demand by increasing the pool of skilled workers trained in cybersecurity. There are several STEM majors available for cybersecurity, and many computer science degree programs offer cybersecurity as a concentration.
As cybersecurity threats become significantly more complicated, trained professionals must be flexible leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation. Having a skilled workforce reduces vulnerability in our national information infrastructure and gives the United States a competitive advantage.
Enhances National Security
Cybersecurity is one of the most serious security challenges we face as a nation, and one we are woefully underprepared for. The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) has identified key goals to help prepare the United States for cyberspace. One key initiative is to strengthen the future cybersecurity environment by expanding cyber education.
STEM students who study cybersecurity graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to implement the cyber technologies that protect us from threats and improve our security practices. It is crucial to have these experts within the federal government or private sector to implement these initiatives set by the CNCI.
While cybersecurity training and personal development is helpful, it takes much more for individuals to be truly proficient in cybersecurity. Instead, our nation needs STEM education with a focus on cybersecurity to generate a pipeline of future cybersecurity employees. With more students choosing a STEM school, cybersecurity-related research and discoveries could become part of the framework for the national effort to protect against cybercriminals.
Advances Technology and Economy
Recent high-level breaches such as those at the Office of Personnel Management, Target and Sony Pictures affected millions of customers. These victims feared their personal information would be sold on the black market and, in some instances, business profits dropped as customers waited for answers. This further encourages businesses to ramp up security efforts and boost profits by developing more secure policies and updating security software.
In a tech-driven world, it’s becoming more evident that it’s not just what you know, but also how you can use what you know. This is where STEM education comes into play. With STEM education, students use state-of-the-art-technology to simulate real-world scenarios and gain hands-on experience. This type of curriculum fuses research and flexibility, both of which cybersecurity professionals need to improve security practices.
Incorporates Cybersecurity in Classrooms
The U.S. government aims to increase STEM integration through programs like the National Centers of Academic Excellence and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, which provides teachers resources to develop STEM-related curriculum. These programs reduce vulnerability in our national infrastructure by promoting cybersecurity and STEM education early on in the classroom, so students can excel in their future security-related STEM careers.