We were all faced with new challenges in 2020 and had to make immediate adjustments to how we live, work, and learn. With many things still unknown as we step into 2021, there are a few things in cyber security that are certain.
- The industry will evolve as businesses professionals will change how they protect digital infrastructure
- Cybercrimes will continue to pose risks and threats to organizations
- The need to diversify the cyber workforce and close the skills gap will remain ever-present.
To address these known challenges, Project Ares anticipates 2021 will be a year to accomplish many milestones in the cyber profession both in the education and training sectors.
The Year to Diversity and Upskill the Cyber Workforce
Quenching the thirst for cyber talent has been a long-standing point of discourse over the past decade and yet the need still exists as the cyber world evolves…As the number of people working remotely continues to grow, the number of cybercrimes will continue to rise, too. We need skilled cyber experts to protect valuable networks and defend against cybercriminals. However, a report from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium found that worldwide employment in the cyber security field would need to grow 89% to meet security requirements of businesses today. In 2021, cyber educators, instructors, and trainers can commit to diversifying the cyber workforce and upskilling/retooling defenders. How? By embracing, adopting, and introducing aspiring cyber professionals and those with a proclivity toward cyber to hands-on cyber ranges. Cyber security is a hands-on profession and it requires hands-on training. We know that existing cyber professionals crave realistic cyber training activities to keep their competencies sharp, while aspiring professionals (students and adult learners) need real-world practice defending networks to enter the workforce with confidence. Those teaching cyber, whether in an academic institution, boot camp, in a SOC, or elsewhere can inform the cyber workforce that upskilling is easier and more engaging when it’s in a hands-on training platform like Project Ares (opens new window).
“Imagine this scenario: A student walks into a job interview that their certifications get them. The hiring manager sits down and says ‘do you know how to do Wireshark (opens new window)?’ and the person sits back and says ‘Bring me to a computer, I’ll show you.’ Wow, what an impact!”, said Michael Kaplan of Phase2 Advantage (opens new window) cyber training and consulting.
Project Ares predicts that 2021 will be a year for businesses and schools alike to adopt and deploy hands-on cyber education and training so more people can positively contribute to the dynamic and fascinating nature of the cyber industry.
The Year to Expand Remote, Virtual Cyber Education
The switch to remote learning was a big adjustment for academic institutions and specifically educators in 2020 due to the pandemic. Teachers were trying to find online teaching solutions, technology, and programs to help with this ‘semi-permanent’ digital learning experience. Well, we can take this shift as a lesson learned! Many experts predict that remote learning will continue to grow in popularity as a teaching strategy well into 2021. Promethean (opens new window) reported that they expect remote learning to experience the biggest growth, followed by virtual learning (54%) and the use of online content and resources (50%). In the context of cyber security teaching, educators will need increased access to remote learning platforms such as Project Ares to give students on-demand, cloud-based cyber learning experiences from anywhere, asynchronously.
“Short of some form of internship at an employer as a cyber security engineer, I cannot envision a better means of exposing learner’s to “real world” security work,” said Dr. James Barker, Capella University (opens new window).
Capella University (opens new window) is a shining example of one of the many higher education and secondary institutions that have embraced the power of remote learning as a teaching mechanism by which to introduce students to Project Ares gamified cyber learning platform (opens new window).
The Year of the Remote Cyber Workforce
For years, cyber security professionals were required to go into offices and physical spaces to conduct their work. While still the case today, the remote working shift to protect employees from contracting COVID-19 (opens new window), forced many cyber professionals to take their network defense and incident response practices fully remote, from their homes.
As businesses learned to adapt to this shift, cyber professionals proved that remote work in this profession is not only possible but equally advantageous for SOC teams and departments. Cyber professionals in 2020 working remote were challenged to find and deploy new security measures and tools to keep fellow remote employees protected on secure infrastructure. In 2021, with pandemic measures still in place across businesses, IT and cyber teams will be remote for the long haul, pragmatically shifting how the industry conducts work overall.
The Year Cyber Budgets NEED to Increase
In 2020, most of the nation made the switch from in-person learning to remote work and learning. This caused an increase in cybercrimes since more people were working from potentially unsecure networks and devices. Cybercrime soared in 2020 (opens new window) and we will continue to see the remote workforce be a focus for cybercriminals again in 2021. To overcome this, many companies will increase cybersecurity and IT budgets (opens new window) to protect sensitive data and prepare for potential cyber threats. In fact, Forbes stated that (opens new window) 55% of enterprise executives plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets in 2021 and 51% are adding full-time cyber staff in 2021. To ensure that spending yields ROI, staff need to be properly and persistently trained in cyber security practices using a cyber range platform to keep their skills sharp. Senior leaders can support cyber service members, cyber analysts, and other SOC teams by giving them access to use a hands-on, scenario-based training solution like Project Ares.
Although the challenges we faced in 2020 are likely here to stay (and evolve) in 2021, the cyber industry will continue to pivot (opens new window) and adjust accordingly. This year, we will see a renewed focus on cyber training and education (opens new window) to support growth in the cyber workforce and grant priority to expand cyber budgets for academic institutions, workforce development centers, and business professional development programs nationwide. This focus on upskilling, retooling, and teaching will prepare the existing and incoming cyber workforce to protect our nation against cyber threats and attacks that come in the new year.