Help Wanted: The Cybersecurity Workforce of the Future Starts with Students Today

Today’s critical infrastructure systems from farm fields planted with digital sensors that track soil moisture and nutrient levels to electric power grids equipped to instantly respond to digital signals about shifts in supply and demand are increasingly vulnerable to attacks that could cripple civil society, according to cybersecurity experts.

Today, there are nearly 2 million U.S. job openings in the field of cybersecurity, studies indicate.

Cybersecurity professionals are trained to harden digital systems and protect them from unauthorized access. The shortfall of cybersecurity professionals is expected to double by 2025 as internet of things, or IoT, technologies proliferate across critical infrastructure, homes and businesses.

“More things are being cyber enabled and that creates this exponential opportunity and demand for people with cybersecurity expertise to secure those systems,” said Jerry Cochran, the chief information security officer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington. Cochran helps lead a lab-wide effort to grow the cybersecurity workforce of the future.