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Modern Cybercrime – The Perfect Storm Is Here

December 8, 2022 No Comments

by Richard Benbow

Why America needs more cyber security professionals now.

In 2021, cybercrime cost the world $6 trillion. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, by 2025, these costs are predicted to increase to $10.5 trillion. From individuals to corporations of all sizes, education, healthcare, aviation, and financial services, every industry faces crippling losses from cyberattacks and data breaches. Governments and large corporations have the most at stake. As we transition to a digital world, the number of devices and connected users online has exploded, making data the backbone of our economy. According to a study by the University of Maryland, data theft is now considered a significant global risk, with hackers attacking every 39 seconds, on average, 2,244 times a day. From ransomware attacks to identity theft, phishing, cryptojacking, and social engineering, cybercriminals are adopting innovative techniques to find vulnerabilities in large IT systems.

The increase in cybercrimes has made cybersecurity become a matter of national security. Organizations and governments alike are realizing the critical need to deploy cybersecurity measures and, most importantly, trained personnel who can take on the challenge of fighting modern cybercrime. However, we are at a precarious juncture – where there is a critical global shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals, despite the devastating proliferation of new-age cyber warfare.  

Cybersecurity Professionals – A Global Shortage Crisis

One of the primary challenges for organizations looking to create a strong cybersecurity infrastructure is that there are simply not enough people with the skills and experience to take on these roles. According to The Washington Post, there are currently nearly 465,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the nation. Research by Cybersecurity Ventures claims that by 2025 there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity unfilled jobs globally.

The U.S. Government is specifically impacted by this shortage and is spearheading a hiring drive. Government contractors and even some federal companies are required to pass cybersecurity audits that help them comprehensively analyze the cybersecurity controls built into their IT infrastructure, detect threats and ensure compliance with regulations. In California specifically, there are state cybersecurity departments like the California Department of Technology in charge of increasing the cybersecurity workforce. The Cybersecurity Task Force is a statewide partnership that aims to serve as an advisory authority, advance the state’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and position California as a leader in cyber education and research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for information security analysts will grow 33 percent from 2020 to 2030. In response, traditional and online accredited universities and colleges are creating programs designed to prepare students to take on pivotal roles in cybersecurity within the next five years. In California, the Newsom Administration has advanced $260 million in recent investments to bolster the state’s ability to prevent and respond to cyberattacks. The state budget also includes $11.3 million one-time and $38.8 million in ongoing funds to mature the state’s overall security posture, improve statewide information security initiatives, analyze cyber threat intelligence and mitigate potential threats.

Cybersecurity Education – Key to Developing a Future-ready Workforce

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to helping educate the nation’s students in cybersecurity, but educational institutions may shoulder the greatest responsibility. It’s crucial for cybersecurity teaching professionals, even at the high school level, to orient and educate students on cybersecurity as a career option. Educational institutions need to focus on drawing the brightest talent through scholarships, internships, and job placement while expanding the opportunities available to encourage a diverse and dynamic workforce beyond traditional recruitment methods.

To attract the greatest pool of talent, professional learning opportunities must enable students to earn a degree in a non-traditional timeframe or framework, such as with online learning. A competency-based education model can help students obtain credentials more rapidly by moving through courses and learning experiences while demonstrating their understanding and proficiency with the subject matter. This method allows working professionals to apply their previous domain knowledge to move quickly through their education. Student skills must match workforce needs, and students with prior knowledge or experience, including cybersecurity certifications taken at the high school level, must be allowed to turn those into course credit. Educational institutions need to identify the essential skills most in demand by cybersecurity employers and turn these skills into the core learning experiences they offer. The workforce demands require a shift in how we approach cybersecurity learning and our expectations of who can be successful cybersecurity professionals. 

Who Can Be a Cybersecurity Professional?

During the Great Resignation, people from varied fields who decided to make career changes and explore opportunities in tech made their way to the industry. While it is perceived many cybersecurity professionals have a background in math or science, the industry employs diverse people with varying skill sets and personalities. Cybersecurity is also increasingly popular with the younger, digitally native generation as a career choice with fast growth prospects. For example, at only 18 years of age, Efren Zamaro completed a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information assurance from Western Governors University in just four months and joined CrowdStrike, a major cybersecurity firm, as an associate security analyst.

Increasing interest in the metaverse and owning digital assets leads to people wanting to protect their assets and themselves from cyber threats in the digital space. Across the board, everyone has to be prepared to respond to cyber-attacks. The creation of a future-ready cybersecurity workforce may be the most important thing both educators and employers can do today.


Richard Benbow is the Regional Vice President (West) of Western Governors University, America’s first and largest competency-based university. In this role, Mr. Benbow combines his passion for innovation and information technology with his desire to serve others to provide access to affordable, high-quality education for underserved adult learners throughout the region. He leads a team that executes strategy and operations to optimize student success by utilizing the WGU platform and developing partnerships and relationships which drive value for employers and students.

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