Closing the cybersecurity tech gap

Posted on Jul 29, 2019 :: Feature
Posted by Kim Iversen

Like it or not, cybercrime is not going away anytime soon. In fact, there are many indications that it’s on the rise, and the types of attacks are changing as hackers get smarter about how to infiltrate systems for maximum disruption.

According to “Cybersecurity: Three Hacking Trends You Need to Know About to Help Protect Yourself,” we’ve seen a shift in the past three years from ransomware and cryptomining, which typically impact individual computers, to more targeted attacks focused on specific data and taking over corporate servers. Ponemon Institute conducted a study indicating that communication service providers, defined as internet service providers and mobile and/or cloud service providers, are expecting an increase in denial-of-service (DDos) attacks as the number of internet of things devices continues to rise.

This is all happening at a time when the demand for skilled cybersecurity talent is growing on a global level. The (ISC)2 2018 Cybersecurity Workforce Study indicates a need for an additional 498,000 cybersecurity positions in the United States alone. That’s up from 265,000 in the 2017 report. Discussions are occurring across the country, as well as here in Wisconsin, about how to help close this gap and prepare our youth for a digital workforce.

Increasingly, experts are looking at how cybersecurity education can begin in high school. Jacob Miller and Sandra Gorka, professors at Pennsylvania College of Technology, created a dual credit cybersecurity course for high school students that they hope to share with other colleges across the nation. Organizations, such as SANS Cyberstart, are developing programs to encourage youth to explore cybersecurity in addition to girl-focused programs to help increase the number of young women entering the field.

Here in Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction is working to develop career pathways in IT, one of which is in cybersecurity. Companies have been invited to participate in feedback sessions to help shape the requirements within the five IT pathways that have been identified. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay offers a program with an emphasis in cybersecurity, and local tech colleges offer their own programs. Nationally, Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., offers undergraduate degrees in both cybersecurity and computer forensics.

A multitude of programs are available for people wanting to know more about cybersecurity and help us meet the rising demand for this career path. Now we need to work on getting students more interested in them.

Kim Iversen,
Director, NEW IT Alliance


Raising my guard

It seems you can’t go a week without hearing about a data breach at a company, whether it’s a retailer, a financial services provider or an online platform, such as Facebook. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and working on multiple attacks to see what will work — whether it’s gathering data to impersonate you online or getting you to download a piece of malware. As I have learned more about cybercrime through my reporting on various articles, I have become more aware and conscious of my online behaviors.

One change I’ve made is limiting personal social media posts. I used to post to Facebook daily about any old thing, but now I think more carefully about what information I am sharing. Am I giving away info that someone could use to impersonate me or my children? (Yes, kids can have their identities stolen, too.)  And those Facebook quizzes? Those are definitely a big no. Sharing information such as your favorite color, food or place provides hackers with personal details they can use to guess your various passwords.

Another change I’ve made is when I receive an email from our financial institution or credit card company asking me to log in and change my password, I take a careful look at the email address. Is the email actually from a or an imposter? Emails also can take you to a page that looks like it came from the retailer, but if you look closer, it’s not.

As one of the experts I talked to for my cover story told me, you need to browse defensively and always be aware of what information you’re sharing and what you’re clicking on.

MaryBeth Matzek,
[email protected]