Medieval scholars debated about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, much as anti-virus and other cybersecurity experts debate about how many new computer viruses are released, or how many hacking attempts the National Security Agency (NSA) fends off, on a daily basis. Whether it’s one million virusesi or 300 million attempts in a dayii the debate doesn’t really matter because, as with dancing angels, we can’t count them anyway—it’s just a big number. Suffice it to say that there is one undebatable point that emerges as we create increasingly complex relationships among the point of data capture, the point of data storage and the point of data used (and never mind whether any of these points can claim legitimate right to such data): More cybersecurity experts are needed. And although calculating the return on investment (ROI) for organizational security budgets remains elusive, you can probably calculate the ROI for individual investment in security credentials.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of information security analysts needed in the US will increase “much faster than average” among all professions (18% through 2024). Certainly the median annual salary in 2015 was attractive: $90,132 per year.iii (Wanna dance?) Cisco reports one million job openings globally and one analysis of BLS data estimates 209,000 cybersecurity jobs are unfilled today in the US.iv A quick search on 1 July 2016 at job posting site Indeed showed almost 4,000 job openings with a minimum $65,000 salary and a maximum salary above $105,000. I hear the music!
Granted, there are opportunity costs to gaining the desired credentials: a degree in cybersecurity, at least one of the recognized information security certifications, and cyber-competition experience. You can fill your dance card with all of these at Regis University. But courses, textbooks, certification test courses and exams, are not inexpensive. Here are some suggestions for funding sources so you can learn the right moves:
BDPA Black Data Processing Associates: Nearly $100,000 awarded per year
ISSAEF Scholarship 2016: Three scholarships will be awarded for a total of $9,000 (not per award) for graduate or undergraduate study.
MITRE Cyber Challenge: The event is held each year.
NICCS National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies: Deadline for ICS2 women’s scholarship was in March, but there’s always next year, especially with more than $10,000 offered per scholarship. The website is a treasure trove of information, however, including cyber competitions and scholarships from Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, and other private (and public) sector firms.
NSF CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Stipends of $22,500 per year (undergraduate) and $34,000 per year (graduate) are available. Funds are paid directly to sponsoring educational institutions.
US Department of Homeland Security Honors Program: Two-year program for undergraduates and graduates.
The above is just a start and is, of course, specific to cybersecurity. Another recommended website is FastWeb where more than 1.5 million scholarships can be found (about $3.4 billion in funding!).
As long as we are living on the cyber edge, we might as well be dancing, right?
i Trend Micro (19 June 2015), “Malware: 1 million new threats emerging daily,” TrendMicro Blog. Retrieved from http://blog.trendmicro.com/malware-1-million-new-threats-emerging-daily/
ii Rakesh Krishnan (22 February 2016), “NSA data center experiencing 300 million hacking attempts per day,” The Hacker News. Retrieved from http://thehackernews.com/2016/02/nsa-utah-data-center.html
iii US Department of Labor, “Occupational outlook handbook,” Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 1 July 2016 from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
iv Steve Morgan (2 January 2016), “One million cybersecurity job openings in 2016,” Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/01/02/one-million-cybersecurity-job-openings-in-2016/#33cd1c747d27