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Clarifying the record: teaching cybersecurity needs to be a national imperative

posted by David Brumley
April 15, 2016

As Director of CyLab, Carnegie Mellon’s Security and Privacy Institute, I believe that it is imperative that we improve the state of cybersecurity education in America, something I recently wrote about in the Wall Street Journal. A national conversation has begun on this topic, and last week, security firm CloudPassage contributed by producing a report that was well intentioned but factually incorrect.

Carnegie Mellon University offers over 50 courses in cybersecurity available both undergraduate and graduate students, including two required courses at the undergraduate level that have large cybersecurity components. However, the CloudPassage report wrongly assigns Carnegie Mellon a “D” rating, denoted as offering 0 required courses and 1-3 electives in cybersecurity. We reached out to the firm and provided them with accurate numbers, and they released a follow-up blog post noting our course offerings.

Numbers aside, we agree with the overarching problem: the U.S. is not doing enough to train students in cybersecurity and universities must do more to grow their cybersecurity curricula. We are not alone: a number of institutions — like Polytechnic Institute of NYU, U.C. Santa Barbara, Berkeley, and many others — are also helping to address the problem through action: building courses that create cybersecurity experts.

Here in CyLab, we embrace cybersecurity as its own discipline and integrate it into engineering, computer science, public policy and business curricula. We recognize that college shouldn’t be the first time students are exposed to the subject of cybersecurity, so we run a hacking contest that drew over 18,000 high-school participants just last year. We are in the midst of planning new initiatives in cybersecurity that could also serve as templates for nationwide adoption.

Our nation’s cybersecurity workforce crisis isn’t going away. Universities can play a meaningful role in creating a cyber-aware generation and building the necessary talent to fulfill workplace needs.

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