Pretty soon, learning about cybersecurity is going to be like learning to read – a necessary and foundational skill to the rest of life. Our children are connected to the global, digital sphere as much as they are the real world parallel to it. Cybersecurity has quickly become the lifeblood that keeps that world turning, coating this very intangible thing in a sheet of armor against attacks we fully expect to happen but that still seem to shock us when they do happen. The photo albums of this generation are digital streams of photos, quotes and milestones documented in a way that will never need to be pulled from a top shelf in a lonely closet and dusted off. This is their world and this is their future.
There has recently been an influx of headlines showcasing the ways in which our world is shifting. Girl Scouts, all 1.8 million of them, can now earn badges geared specifically to cybersecurity and online safety. A £20m program was just launched in the UK to teach 6,000 students early skills in cybersecurity to propel more of them to go into that profession. Girlstart, a local, rapidly growing organization that encourages young girls to stick to their STEM dreams, including high-tech and cybersecurity, is an organization SailPoint supports regularly. All of this programming and early training points to one central truth: there is an incredible amount of value in making cybersecurity a habit.
Beyond the basic necessity of cybersecurity, what’s driving the surge in these widespread efforts to train the younger generations? The cybersecurity talent gap, which boasts an expected 1.5 million positions to be open and unfilled in the year 2020. It is as widely reported as any tech topic these days, and unfortunately, it’s not getting better.
Not only are businesses looking for very traditional credentials, they also seem to want true veterans. While it’s certainly important to have seasoned professionals on a security team, by its very definition nobody is ever a veteran at the start no matter how much schooling they’ve had. Experience is key, and seeing that begin with early childhood could prove advantageous for both society as a whole and businesses looking to strengthen their security teams. These programs also have strong potential to help the large pool of untapped female talent, further closing the gap.
This type of programming is truly a necessity. It isn’t that every child needs to be trained up to go into cybersecurity, but we are all responsible parties in the fight against cybercrime, and it is truly refreshing to see such a proactive culture taking shape before us. Opening up children to the world of cybersecurity, a world they’re already participating in whether they know it or not is the next logical step in making their world a little safer and their futures a little brighter.