Valley Educators Prepare Students For Cybersecurity Workforce
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Jeff Meier, executive director of LindenPointe Development Corp., says cybersecurity is one of the hottest careers today with an estimated 3.5 million unfilled positions globally, job security and rising salaries, according to the most recent research by Cybersecurity Ventures.
Employment in the cybersecurity sector will grow by 31% between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and institutions are trying to fill that need with different paths of education.
Meier notes that the cybersecurity industry employs 925,000 nationwide but there are approximately 600,000 unfilled positions.
To fill some of those jobs, last month he launched the Pennsylvania Cybersecurity Center at LindenPointe’s technology business incubator in Hermitage, Pa. It provides a “boot camp-like” environment where participants get hands-on training, relevant industry certifications, and paid work experience through innovative internships and apprenticeships.
“The Pennsylvania Cybersecurity Center was created to help drive workforce and economic development in rural areas by fostering the next generation of industry-ready professionals,” he says. “It works closely with local high schools, colleges and universities and businesses.”
In Ohio, the state education department’s cybersecurity steering committee strives for commonality among school district programs, along with developing industry professionals and leaders.
Will Ward, associate professor of information technology at Kent State University at Trumbull, says the goal at the high school and collegiate levels is to increase the number of people with degrees in IT and/or cybersecurity.
Todd Jones, lecturer of computer science and information systems at Youngstown State University, says businesses are beset by cyber-attacks such as ransomware, phishing, pharming and smishing attacks.
Ransomware involves an encrypted virus placed on a system’s files that is followed by a ransom demand for the encryption key. Phishing is a fraudulent email attempting to harvest passwords or credit card numbers.
Pharming is the use of a fake website to obtain account information after a user logs in, while smishing employs the same tactics over text messaging – asking to verify credit card or Social Security numbers.
“[Education is] constantly changing as are some of the topics the classes cover as a result,” Jones says.
Cybersecurity has been part of the computer science and information systems at YSU for the past decade with courses in information insurance, security design and computer forensics.
YSU revived its Cisco Academy, which teaches securing network equipment, setting up access control lists and static IP addressing.
Jones says information technology students who do not focus on cybersecurity are made aware of the common behaviors of systems undergoing cyberattacks or viruses.
“Many students will go on to have a position at a help desk or will need to serve on a help desk as part of their duties. A major part of efficiently troubleshooting everyday problems is rooted in having a firm understanding of cybersecurity,” Jones says. “At the higher levels, students will be dealing with bigger problems such as ransomware attacks.”
Kent State Trumbull launched its associate degree in cybersecurity program last fall, which starts students toward a bachelor’s degree at the main Kent campus. This program is offered online.
This degree can either get you noticed by employers or provide a pathway to further education, says Ward.
“Students can enroll at any Kent campus. Or we have students in the military or living in Florida, Texas or wherever,” Ward says.
“A lot of our students go to small to mid-sized organizations, which could be hospitals, school districts, businesses or whatever,” he says.
LindenPointe’s Meier says the mission of his Pennsylvania Cybersecurity Center is to create and manage a collaborative cybersecurity ecosystem, fulfill workforce demand, and support technology startups in the region.
“The PCC has secured local, regional, collegiate and industry partnerships to offer graduates of the PCC paid internships and apprenticeships,” he says. “Potential careers upon completion of the program include entry-level jobs in security analytics, threat intelligence analytics, software development, technical support and many more.”
Pictured: Todd Jones teaches cybersecurity courses at Youngstown State University.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.