Senior Consultant, IBM Center for Applied Insights
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In a world of increasing and varying information security threats, academic initiatives focused on cybersecurity are proliferating - yet, there is still the danger of falling short in addressing the long-term threat. To avoid becoming too focused on near-term issues, programs must be more collaborative across their own institutions, with industry, government, and among the global academic community. Only by working in concert can we meet today’s demand while educating the next generation to create a more secure future.
There have been a lot of recent reports, blog posts and news articles discussing the cybersecurity skills gap. It has been an ongoing issue for a while, and will continue into the future. We wanted to tackle this problem, not from the demand side, but from the supply side. So, the IBM Center for Applied Insights and IBM’s Cyber Security Innovation team selected 15 academic programs in 6 different countries from the over 200 institutions we monitor and work with. We conducted interviews with faculty members, department chairs and others. This week, we released a synthesis of those interviews in our latest security insights paper, “Cybersecurity education for the next generation: Advancing a collaborative approach” .
Through our interviews it was confirmed that cybersecurity is top of mind for students, educators, industry and government. Industry and government are currently facing a significant skills gap and this is causing the programs we interviewed see extremely high demand for their students, both undergraduate and graduate.
But, not all is rosy with the increased demand and attention. Programs are expected to provide more of everything – courses, graduates, opportunities, research – which has caused programs to face a number of organizational and technology challenges. Stained programs are addressing these challenges in different ways, taking different approaches to cybersecurity education, but still sharing similar common principles.
The trends, challenges, issues and differing perspectives cannot be fully addressed by each academic program on its own; cybersecurity is a global problem and should have global solutions. A set of leading practices promoting a longer-term and more collaborative approach is needed. We identified three general areas that the leading programs we talked to excelled at, all dealing with collaboration and connection.
1. Collaborate within your own institution – Cybersecurity programs should embed security practices and principles in computer science and engineering courses and take a holistic technical approach. They should work with other disciplines and schools in the university (e.g., business, law, ethics, medicine, policy). They should offer diverse education options for students and professionals (graduate, undergraduate, professional development, etc.).
2. Co-evolve with industry and government – Academic programs should have deep ties with industry and government – partnering and collaborating on research, curriculum development, and opportunities for students. A hands-on, practical, approach is also extremely important. Laboratory work, projects, special-interest groups, and internships should all be cultivated.
3. Connect across the global academic community – A number of the programs we talked with discussed the need for building a “science of security” to anticipate security problems and a cross-discipline lingua franca among scientists, engineers and policy makers. Fundamental concepts and common vocabulary can only be developed with participation of the entire global cybersecurity community.
To read more about leading cybersecurity education practices, case studies, and IBM’s recommendations, download our report . The paper is part of our ongoing security insights series which includes the 2012 IBM CISO Assessment and the Security Essentials for CIOs series.