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Ransomware attack brings attention to cybersecurity training, need for workers

Pipeline Cybersecurity
Posted at 8:02 AM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 10:11:11-04

Pipeline companies are expected to face mandatory cybersecurity requirements following the recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has given them voluntary guidelines in the past, but now the Biden administration says new actions are coming soon.

Senior leaders tell the Washington Post that the changes would include requiring pipeline operators to report certain cyberattacks to the Department of Homeland Security.

That ransomware attack is also bringing attention to the need for more workers in cybersecurity.

A global association for IT professionals recently found that 61% of people say their cybersecurity teams are understaffed and 55% say they have unfilled cybersecurity positions.

President Joe Biden said after the pipeline attack that we need to have a greater investment in training and graduating more people skilled in cybersecurity.

“There is increased awareness, but I think that there's more education that's needed so that young people know that that's a viable career path. It's one with great need and demand, and it will probably be one of those fields that creates an amazing opportunity, you know, to earn and save money and have a family and all of those things that that people, some people struggle with today,” said Shaun McAlmont, Ed.D., President of Career Learning Solutions at Stride Inc.

McAlmont leads a career program through Stride Inc. The program allows students to gain knowledge about cybersecurity as early as middle school. He says there's a real benefit to introducing kids to the field early to bring more diversity and address biases.

“They have a view that they can see themselves in the job, especially when they talk to somebody in the industry. Without that view of yourself actually in the job, being successful, working on tech technological things, it's foreign,” said McAlmont.

He says the pandemic has also made cybersecurity training more accessible for adults, as well as people who may be looking to switch careers. That's because of the number of flexible online programs.

“Allows you to continue with the other parts of your life while you're learning. I think that's absolutely critical, you know, as we move toward filling some of these skills gaps. And that access is even more critical for underrepresented populations,” said McAlmont.

In some cases, the training lasts just six months.

It's something we've seen more people in fields like the restaurant industry pursue during the pandemic.