National Cyber Security Awareness Month Highlights Strengthening the Cyber Workforce as a Starting Point to a Safer, More Secure Online Future

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[October 24, 2017]

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Cyberattacks continue to make headlines while consumer trust in the key systems that underpin our nation continues to erode. The “Securing Our Future: Cybersecurity and the Millennial Workforce” study released by Raytheon and Forcepoint in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), reveals that 43 percent of young Americans believe cyberattacks influenced the 2016 election results. The study – now in its fifth year ? further explores millennials’ attitudes about careers in cybersecurity and what they are and are not doing to stay safer and more secure online.

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education’s 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study predicts there will be a cybersecurity workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022. The shortage of professionals protecting our extensive networks poses a significant risk to our economic and national security. Attracting young people to join the next generation of skilled cyber workers and training existing employees in cybersecurity are starting points to building stronger defenses across the internet’s borderless landscape. As National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) – a widespread online safety awareness and education initiative co-founded and led by NCSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – nears its end, NCSA is encouraging students and professionals to explore the variety of options that cybersecurity offers as a viable and fulfilling profession. Role models and key influencers like parents, teachers, counselors and government officials are urged to educate this group about the exciting careers in cybersecurity and the pathways to pursuing them.

“A highly skilled and motivated cybersecurity workforce is just as critical to the internet’s future as new and emerging technologies,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “A career protecting the internet ? a global resource we all share ? can be extremely rewarding, matched with interests in a specific sector like finance, health or government and highly portable, as industries around the globe need competent help.”

Cybersecurity careers also provide opportunities to use a variety of skills – like problem solving, communication, management, data analysis and software programming – and offer competitive salaries, challenging work and a variety of positions and opportunities. Check out the latest NCSAM infographic for more information about the benefits of a career in cybersecurity and resources to help guide you on the path to working in this gratifying field (download and share it on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware!).

The Good News: Millennials Have Positive Perceptions re: Cybersecurity and Education
Fortunately, the majority of millennials have favorable feelings – and access to resources – about cybersecurity programs; the study indicates the following:

  • 83 percent said that it’s important, very important or extremely important to strengthen cybersecurity awareness programs in the workforce as well as in formal education programs
  • 70 percent reported that their high school or secondary education programs prepared them to use technology safely, securely, ethically and productively in the workplace – up from 55 percent in 2013

“Our digital world needs young people who want to pursue the limitless opportunities available in cybersecurity,” said Valecia Maclin, director of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon. “We are very encouraged that more millennials are valuing cybersecurity awareness and education programs. The next critical step is to motivate them to take action and chart a course toward this very necessary and meaningful line of work.”

The Bad News: Young People Are Skipping Basic Online Safety
Unfortunately, interest among many millennials in learning about cybersecurity and access to cyber education has not translated to always using proper cyber hygiene. Exhibiting poor cybersecurity practices could spell danger not just for young people’s accounts and information but also for their employers. The survey reveals the following:

  • There are several key security actions young adults reported not taking, despite thinking they should, such as:
    • Updating software/apps quickly when notified of updates (55%)
    • Using two-step authentication (57%)
    • Avoiding clicking on links unless they are sure they’re legitimate (63%)
    • Limiting the sharing of personal information online (60%)
    • Using a different password for every key account (54%)
  • 77 percent reported connecting to no-password Wi-Fi in the last month – up from 66 percent in 2013
  • 42 percent said they had shared passwords with non-family members in the last year – up from 23 percent in 2013

Despite the positive trends in young people’s awareness and education, there is still work to be done to encourage action and behavioral change when it comes to individuals’ cybersecurity habits and interests in working to protect the internet. NCSA’s free online safety resources – including tip sheets, posters, infographics and videos – can help people teach themselves, their families and friends and their communities about online safety, security and privacy basics. In particular, this primer can help parents and educators guide young people as they consider cybersecurity careers.

NCSA will be conducting a variety of Facebook Live interviews that will provide intriguing perspectives about careers in cybersecurity. Catch them throughout the week at

Facebook’s Commitment to Cybersecurity Careers
Facebook is working to highlight cybersecurity careers as rewarding, valuable options for young and seasoned professionals alike, including working to promote a more diverse cyber workforce. For example, Aanchal Gupta, Facebook’s security director, grew up in a small town in northern India, became an engineer and now is a security leader helping more than two billion people feel safe while using the widely popular social media platform. Gupta emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting where you want to go and recommends continuing to learn and prepare for the future.

“Having confidence and courage helps,” Gupta said. “There will be times when you will see an opportunity that will not totally align with your skill set. Push yourself to that challenge. Technology is changing fast, and continuous learning is the only way to stay current. Continue to explore new technological areas and prepare for the future. Even though you may not be an expert in each field, you are still bringing diversity of thought and experience, and that is invaluable.”

Facebook hosts middle school and high school students on campus to give them a feel for what a day in a security engineer’s life looks like. If more companies do this, Facebook believes they will encourage more students to choose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, which could lead to careers in security.

Be a Part of Something Big: Become a NCSAM Champion
One way you and/or your organization can participate in NCSAM is by becoming a NCSAM Champion. Champions represent those dedicated to promoting a safer, more secure and more trusted internet. Becoming a Champion is easy and does not require any financial support. There are already more than 1000 organizations and more than 520 individuals signed up to support the monh. Champions receive a toolkit of online safety awareness and education materials they can use to support the month and updates leading up to and throughout October on resources, upcoming events and ways to get involved.

Upcoming NCSAM Events
NCSA and partners will host a number of events across the country up to and throughout NCSAM. Noteworthy upcoming events and initiatives include:

  • CyberNextDC: Privacy. Partnerships. Protection. Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (EDT), Venable LLP, 600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, 9th Floor, Washington, D.C.: In honor of NCSAM, the Coalition for Cybersecurity Policy & Law, the Cyber Threat Alliance and The National Security Institute at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law will host this inaugural policy day in Washington. This daylong event will feature prominent members of the cybersecurity community as well as congressional and administration leadership who are actively engaged in cybersecurity policy issues. The event will also feature top policymakers, leading industry practitioners and other experts discussing the current state of cybersecurity, fostering critical discussions among participants and identifying forward thinking approaches to improve cybersecurity.
  • Finding a Career in Cybersecurity – Panel on Job Successes, Wednesday, Oct. 25,                1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT/10:00-11:00 a.m. PDT, Virtual/Online: For those looking to break into the cybersecurity industry, the options can be overwhelming. Should you go back to school or take online courses? How can you find the right role that matches your passions and skills? In this free webinar, hosted by [email protected] Manager Tom Gilheany, we’ll be diving into how to answer these questions and more. After a brief introduction to set the scene, our panel of experts will discuss how they got their role, lessons learned and advice for job seekers like you.
  • #ChatSTC Twitter Chat: The Internet Wants You – Consider a Career in Cybersecurity, Thursday, Oct. 26, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT/12:00-1:00 p.m. PDT, Virtual/Online: A key risk to our economy and security is the shortage of cybersecurity professionals to protect our extensive networks. Week 4 of NCSAM is all about growing the next generation of a skilled cyber workforce. In this NCSAM Twitter chat, we’ll discuss the many exciting and rewarding opportunities in the field of cybersecurity and provide tips and resources for both new and seasoned professionals looking to gain cybersecurity expertise. Use #ChatSTC to join!
  • 2017 International Information Sharing Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 31 – Wednesday, Nov. 1, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, Washington, D.C.: Join the Information Sharing and Analysis Organization Standards Organization for its inaugural International Information Sharing Conference, with participation from the  and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This two-day event will convene practitioners from small businesses to multinational corporations and from information sharing newcomers to well-established cybersecurity organizations.
  • EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 31 – Friday, Nov. 3, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA: The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference hosts professionals and technology providers from around the world to network, share ideas and discover solutions to today’s challenges. Here you’ll have access to the largest gathering of your peers. People who you can relate to, learn from and actively contribute to the best thinking in higher education IT.
  • #ChatSTC Twitter Chat: Protecting Critical Infrastructure From Cyber Threats, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT/12:00-1:00 p.m. PDT, Virtual/Online: As NCSAM comes to a close, we’ll discuss the connection between the cyber and physical worlds, the importance of protecting and securing our critical infrastructure – our traffic lights, running water, phone lines, power grids and more – and share simple cyber tips for individuals looking to do their part to protect our critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Use #ChatSTC to join!

Learn more about upcoming NCSAM events (and submit your own to NCSA’s events calendar) at

Helpful Resources from NCSA and Partners

  • NCSA
  • DHS
    • The National Initiative for Cyber Careers & Studies (NICCS): NICCS was created by DHS as a key public resource for cybersecurity careers and training. The Training Catalog contains over 3,000 courses with more being added every day. Additionally, the NICCS website includes key resources for employers looking to build out their cybersecurity teams and job seekers pursuing positions within cybersecurity. These include The National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework and The Cybersecurity Workforce Development Toolkit.
    • Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) is a free, online, on-demand cybersecurity training system for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial government personnel. The FedVTE Training Catalog consists of various cybersecurity courses, ranging from beginner to expert. Share this information with any government employees or veterans you know!
    • National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) program: The National Security Agency (NSA) and DHS jointly sponsor the CAE school program. The goal of the program is to reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise for the nation. To learn more about CAE requirements, visit their website.
  • Cisco
    • Preparing Today for Tomorrow’s Cyber Threats (podcast): For many countries around the world, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, when participating governments and private industry sponsor advocacy campaigns to promote cyber awareness, and provide the information and resources for us all to be more safe and secure online. Cisco is a founding member of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and a Champion Sponsor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the U.S. We welcome you to listen to our podcast, see the show notes for links to more information, and join the conversation. Together, businesses of all sizes, governments, educational institutions and consumers alike can do their part to build a safer and more secure internet. It’s up to all of us, and awareness and education is a great place to start. For more info and resources, visit our Cyber Security Awareness Month site and Trust Center.
  • Cyber Corps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program
    • The SFS Program is administered through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which provides funding to full-time students in exchange for government service. The SFS Program is designed to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. Scholarships are granted through the National Science Foundation.
  • National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE)
    • NICE’s primary mission is to energize and promote a robust network and an ecosystem of cybersecurity education, training and workforce development:
    • NICE K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference, Monday, Dec. 4Tuesday, Dec. 5, Omni Hotel, Nashville, TN: Thought leaders from education, government, industry and non-profits will address how K-12 education is uniquely positioned to accelerate learning, increase skills development, identify methods to best nurture a diverse learning community, and provide approaches to guide career development and workforce planning for today’s youth.
  • SANS Security Awareness
    •  SANS Cyber Aces Online is an online course that teaches the core concepts needed to assess and protect information security systems.
    • CyberStart is a forward-thinking skills program designed to supply specialist cybersecurity education to young people across the US. Using a suite of online challenges, tools and games, it aims to inspire the next generation of cybersecurity professionals while identifying the best and most talented young Americans.
    • There is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals, and students and career changers are finding their way into this exciting and growing field. Test your cybersecurity aptitude with the SANS CyberTalent Aptitude Assessment and see if cybersecurity might be a good career choice.

For the remainder of NCSAM, you can join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware (and tag your own posts with #CyberAware, too!). Additionally, @STOPTHNKCONNECT will continue its weekly Twitter chats in support of NCSAM to discuss different topics and trends in cybersecurity. Tune in for hourlong chats Oct. 26 and Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT; visit the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ website for the full chat schedule. NCSA has created sample social media posts, infographics, posters, memes and more that you can download and share, and that encourages organizations and individuals to show their support for NCSAM and get the latest resources by registering as NCSAM Champions. Finally, check out the Stay Safe Online blog for NCSAM posts from NCSA and partners during the month of October.

About National Cyber Security Awareness Month
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Now in its 14th year, NCSAM was co-founded and is co-led by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, the nation’s leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the internet and digital privacy. Recognized annually in October, NCSAM involves the participation of a multitude of industry leaders ? mobilizing individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, nonprofits, academia, multinational corporations and governments. Encouraging digital citizens around the globe to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, NCSAM is harnessing the collective impact of its programs and resources to increase awareness about today’s ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. Visit the NCSA media room for more information and resources.

About the National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness. NCSA works with a broad array of stakeholders in government, industry and civil society. NCSA’s primary partners are the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NCSA’s Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; Aetna; AT&T Services Inc.; Bank of America; Barclays; CDK Global, LLC; Cisco; Comcast Corporation; ESET North America; Google; Facebook; LifeLock, Inc.; Logical Operations; NXP Semiconductors; RSA, the Security Division of EMC; Symantec Corporation; Intel Corporation; MasterCard; Microsoft Corporation; PayPal; Raytheon; PKWARE; Salesforce; SANS Security Awareness; TeleSign; Visa and Wells Fargo. NCSA’s core efforts include National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October); Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28) and STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global online safety awareness and education campaign co-founded by NCSA and the Anti Phishing Working Group, with federal government leadership from DHS. For more information on NCSA, please visit  

National Cyber Security Awareness Month Logo. (PRNewsFoto/National Cyber Security Alliance)

National Cyber Security Alliance. (PRNewsFoto/National Cyber Security Alliance)

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