17 computer and cell phoneAccording to Varonis Systems’ 2020 Data Breach Statistics, a cyber-attack occurs every 39 seconds. The North Carolina Department of Justice reported it only took 1,210 data breaches to affect nearly 1.1 million North Carolinians last year. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the current security issues, increasing the breeding ground for cybercriminals as more people work remotely from home offices. On this high-tech battlefield, cybersecurity professionals are outnumbered.

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals has resulted in overwhelming workloads, unfilled job openings and limited time for workers to learn the latest security technologies as they fight cyber-threats on the firewall frontlines. Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated in their attacks, so security techniques must become more vigorous. To ensure a robust cybersecurity team, employees’ skillsets must align with the progressive expertise needed by companies as they combat the persistent cyber-attacks faced on a day-to-day basis. Without this specialized skillset, cybersecurity teams are ill-equipped to protect companies — the same companies we entrust with our personal and financial information — from being compromised by cybercriminals who have every intention of stealing data for their personal gain.

As the number of cyber-attacks continue to rise and the quantity of qualified IT professionals is stunted by an ever-growing workforce gap in the cybersecurity field, how does cybersecurity regain its advantage? The obvious answer is to shorten the workforce gap by hiring qualified cybersecurity professionals, and this wishful thinking is now a tangible reality through the Carolina Cyber Network.

Fayetteville Technical Community College and Montreat College have partnered to establish CCN to correct the cybersecurity workforce gap in North Carolina. The idea behind this initiative is to revamp the talent pipeline of workers to better align with the needs of employers. CCN created a unique triadic approach to solve this dilemma by providing support to K-12 educators, collaborating with neighboring colleges and universities, and partnering with businesses.

One of the goals of CCN is to supply K-12 schools with the resources needed to better prepare students to enter universities and colleges for cybersecurity-related degrees and certificates. These resources include providing training and certification vouchers for teachers as well as offering scholarships to students. The program will also give schools access to online IT teaching material through NDG labs hosted by partnering colleges and universities.

As high school students complete an Information Technology track, they can progress through the talent pipeline as they pursue higher education. CCN connects universities and colleges across the state to create a collaborative environment in which students can receive specialized training to enhance their technical and essential skills. The initiative will help provide college students with real-world experience through work study, internship and apprenticeship opportunities. With coveted skills and entry-level experience, students will be well-equipped, work-ready, cybersecurity professionals.

CCN’s partnership with businesses opens the lines of communication between industry and educational institutions to ensure the skills needed in the workforce are the same skills being taught in the classroom. The CCN program will also provide the opportunity of continued education for company employees seeking to advance their technical training.

The CCN is a win-win program for everyone involved. Students will be prepared for a lucrative career in cybersecurity; the existing workforce gap will decrease; and cyber-compliant businesses will have fully staffed and skilled cybersecurity teams capable of handling an onslaught of malicious hackers.

Now is a great time to plan for fall semester classes. Learn more about the many options available in the Computer Technology programs area. Call 910-678-8400 or email admissionscounselors@faytechcc.edu to find your way forward.

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