INDIANAPOLIS — The growth of cyber threats is leading to a projected jump in jobs as more analysts are needed to protect businesses from crimes.
Skills to fill that job outlook might even filter into elementary grades.
As an example, one Indiana cybersecurity expert noted that in April hackers in Finland breached a U.S. casino’s database through its smart thermostat and stole information on high-rollers.
“That’s just one example of the things that are around us. We need to have cybersecurity and familiarization starting in elementary school so they can grow up learning how to responsibly use the technology that’s around us,” said Bill Russell, executive director and chief information security officer for Columbus-based Cummins Inc.
“For me, I don’t think the cybersecurity thing is going to be retired as a problem and we move on some different problem. I think we’re stuck with this for a long time and it’s going to take more than just targeting a specific workforce to upscale them. We have to upscale everybody,” Russell told about 50 people at a cybersecurity conference.
Cybersecurity was the focus of a two-day conference held by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce for data security experts and employers looking for analysts in an under-filled field.
In 2015, Cummins employed 12 people in cybersecurity; three worked mostly with information technology (IT) systems. The team has grown to 43.
Nationally, employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the 7 percent average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 557,100 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Information security analysts with a bachelor’s degree earned a median salary of $95,510 in 2017. Jobs in the information security field are expected to grow by 28 percent through 2026.
College representatives at a panel said employers are looking for analysts who can communicate with others and explore problems uniquely and not be “recipe followers.” “The best students that I have had have been those students that have been on on the shop floor for 30 years, have never seen a lick of a computer. They ask the best questions.
They really want to learn,” Pam Schmelz, Ivy Tech department chair for School of Computing and Informatics, said.
“The ones that have not been that successful are the ones that have sort of grown up with the technology, they think they know stuff. They don’t ask questions, they don’t want to do their homework,” Schmelz said. “So never deny somebody because they don’t have an IT background.”
Most universities, including Ivy Tech Community College and Western Governors University (WGU), offer cybersecurity degrees or certificates.
Carlo Sapijaszko, program manager of curriculum for WGU Indiana, compared the current shortage in filling cybersecurity jobs to that of the healthcare profession 20 years ago. Jobs were created through partnerships between colleges and industry, he noted.
For example, Schmelz said, Ivy Tech is preparing an 11-month national cyber-academy at Camp Muscatatuck for the Indiana National Guard and the National Center for Complex Operations.