Cybersecurity 101: Educating Computer Scientists in Security

July 07, 2016
By Rita Marty


Cybersecurity is paramount.

Each new threat creates new, unforeseen risks. Identity theft, corporate breaches or other scams jeopardize private information. Cybersecurity as a career path requires continuous learning. You must stay ahead of the curve to prevent attacks, even those that are unknown.

The need for security professionals is growing rapidly.

Yet recent research shows none of the top 10 U.S. computer science programs require their students to take a single cybersecurity-related course.[1]

That has to change. In the past, many saw cybersecurity as a specialized area. But it’s a core component of today’s technology and operations. Security should be present in all technologies developed today and become a foundational component of tech-focused careers.

50 billion devices will connect to networks by 2020, projects AT&T report, “What Every CEO Needs to Know about Cybersecurity.”

We’re connecting everything from factory robots to washers and dryers. Many of those devices were not originally designed with security in mind. This explosion of connected devices creates countless potential network vulnerabilities. Finding ways to help secure these new devices is vital to managing security threats going forward.

Embedding security best practices into undergraduate level curriculum is critical to enable this transformation.

At AT&T, we’re committed to cybersecurity education. We’re transforming our technology to meet the changing environment. This means moving to software-defined networks and more agile, seamless business models.

As we evolve, we’re making efforts to help our workforce evolve with us. We launched our Workforce Skills Pivot Program in 2014 to offer employees the training and experience they need to be competitive. Security education is a core component of this effort. In fact, we recently highlighted one of these employees pivoting into this area.

Our workforce must become more proficient in software development and security. We incorporated courses emphasizing security architecture principles, secure coding practices, code scanning, API security and more. These “nanodegrees” take about 4-9 months to complete. The aggressive and comprehensive curriculum teaches valuable skills employees can apply in real situations immediately.

The need for bright, educated minds in information security continues to grow. The number of major cyber-attacks and the implications of these attacks underscore the need for educated professionals.

Fostering the next generation of cybersecurity professionals and leaders must be a priority for business and academia.

[1] CloudPassage. “CloudPassage Study Finds U.S. Universities Failing in Cybersecurity Education.” 7 April, 2016.

Rita Marty, Executive Director, Cloud & Mobility Security

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