In the words of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient cyberspace.”
In our increasingly digitalized world, defending cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure from a widening array of risks presents a great challenge. The need to acquire sufficient cyber literacy in cybersecurity, beyond basic threat awareness, is critical—and traditional education is falling short in preparing the workforce with these skills.
Born from the training methods of the Israeli Defense Forces, education experts, and cybersecurity industry veterans is a solution to the growing cyber literacy gap: the cyber center. A cyber center is a virtual or physical space that offers a set of cyber solutions to a specific community, region, or industry.
Here, we define four most common types of cyber centers. Each is powerful in their own right, and when they all come together they form a true cyber coalition of hands-on education, talent matching, and innovation.
A private business or “vertical” industry can provide cyber center capabilities and components not only to its employees, but to its clients, its clients’ clientele, and so on. Companies allow their employees to acquire new cyber literacy skills while offering internships and job opportunities to students and talent. Entrepreneurs, researchers, and startups work together to develop and integrate new technologies to promote cybersecurity. Some examples include security companies providing extra layers of education to their client chains, financial services providers doing the same, law firms, energy suppliers, supply chain managers, health care providers and insurers. The list goes on.
The idea here is that since we are all connected by a mutual goal to enhance cyber awareness and literacy, expand cybersecurity education, and bolster the skills and capabilities of those involved, we can distribute the cyber center education to not only develop talent FOR the workforce but to also develop talent IN the workforce.
2. Higher Education/Academia
The traditional cyber-skills development methods of taking courses in a 2- or 4-year degree program at a university or college can still hold true. However, institutions of higher learning in a cyber center ecosystem offer hands-on programs to their degree and non-degree students.
While these students are taking general knowledge and major-based curriculums, they develop skills, perform in simulation environments, and then demonstrate to employers (who desperately need them) via internships, apprenticeships, and part-time employment. Not only does this shorten the time to “primetime” full-time employment, but it also helps decrease the deficit in the workforce. And it all happens while the students are acquiring their formal schooling. Additionally, the institutions providing cyber literacy education and the center gain an extra layer of security for all students, thanks to the growth of a core body of expertise.
U.S. government entities at the country, state, and municipal levels have the ability to distribute role-based and advanced cyber education to the appropriate departments and disciplines to grow the cyber resiliency of the government entity itself, along with the units/departments and each community tied to it. Think XYZ city educating and training its Department of Education, Department of Finance, Law Enforcement and other employees, and being able to offer these services far beyond its walls to the community and beyond.
The ability to coordinate cyber threat intelligence assessments and share information in a timely manner puts government agencies in a good position to mitigate spiraling cybersecurity incidents and breaches. And while a government entity builds its teams’ cybersecurity capabilities, it also supports the cyber center with training grants and expert guidance. The cyber center thrives.
4. Industry + Academia + Government
Although we now know that cyber centers can be formed solely by a business, university, or government branch, most often it is academia that reaches out to industry or government to partner in a common goal. This partnership as a whole is committed to training the next generation of cyber professionals through education and real-world practice while supporting innovative companies and agencies focused on developing new technologies to strengthen our cyber defenses.
In this respect, cyber centers are the future of cyber capabilities development because they offer a holistic approach to bridging the gaps between industry, higher education, and government.
Developing Capabilities through Collaboration
Since cyber literacy and skill acquisition and enhancement are needed across all disciplines and in all areas of expertise, growing a secure, intelligent, proficient community, workforce, and talent structure begins with a center. The collaborative cyber center serves as a hub for cyber intelligence, best practices, and training.
Contact a Cybint representative to learn more or to launch a cyber center in your area.