What You Need to Know About Teaching Cybersecurity

Teaching Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know edWebinar recording link


There is a massive demand for qualified cybersecurity talent with the current number of open positions ranging from 300,000 in the United States to 4 million globally. In a recent edWebinar, Casey O’Brien, Executive Director, National CyberWatch Center, and Jim Kowatch, CEO, Infosec Learning, underscored that to fill the demand for cybersecurity experts, secondary and higher education should focus their attention on developing cybersecurity courses that are rooted in IT operations and applications. However, with over 600 identifiable cybersecurity concepts and given the time constraints of K-12 and higher education, it nearly impossible to thoroughly integrate them all into a cybersecurity course. A recommended strategy is that comprehensive cybersecurity courses include the 30 critical concepts such as IT literacy, concepts, terminology, software, virtualization, hardware and system administration, and networks such as Linux and Windows. These core concepts will provide a foundation upon which the learner can start looking at more specialized roles within information security.

You Are Not Alone

As with many specialized or singleton courses, cybersecurity course instructors may feel isolated within the school community. However, they should be comforted to know that there are many resources available. Organizations such as the nationalcyberwatch.org, the Center for System Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA), and the National Cybersecurity Training and Education Center (NCYTE) have a plethora of resources available, including instructional materials that can be tailored to provide students with real-world learning experiences. The NOVA Cybersecurity Lab, MediaSmart’s Cybersecurity Program, the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, and the SANS Cyber Aces provide resources and lesson plans that are adaptable for all age groups.

Teaching Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know edWebinar image


Classroom vs. Hands-on Experiences

While classroom instruction is critical for any cybersecurity program, employers also want to see their future employees apply many of the terms, concepts, and methods before hitting the job market. Cybersecurity instructors should integrate outside-the-classroom experiences for students for them to be well prepared when facing cybersecurity situations in their jobs. One of the most effective hands-on training is in the competition space, which includes themes such as forensics and programming. Virtual cybersecurity competitions such as the National Cyber League challenge high school and college students to develop defensive and offensive cybersecurity plans similar to ones they would face in the workforce. Even providing learning spaces such as makerspaces and hackerspaces within the classroom are opportunities for hands-on experiences.

In this day and age, when education, industry, and government rely heavily on the safety and reliability of the technology, it is the responsibility of K-12 and higher education to develop cybersecurity programs that will ensure students will have the skills and experiences to fill the increasing demand for qualified cybersecurity experts.

The edWeb webinar referenced above was sponsored by Infosec Learning.

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This article was modified and published by EdScoop.

About the Presenter

Casey W. O’Brien serves as Executive Director and Principal Investigator of the National CyberWatch Center, a cybersecurity education and research consortium focused on advancing information security education and strengthening the national workforce. Casey has more than 25 years of information security and large-scale IT implementation and project management experience in challenging and cutting-edge public and private sector environments. Casey’s teaching and research interests include: practice-based education and training solutions that combine accelerated learning programs, validated assessments, instruction, practice labs, and challenging scenarios to improve information security talent management in organizations; rapid deployment of customizable and adaptive curriculum that raises learner capability maturity in foundational security concepts, tactics, techniques, and procedures; and formative credentialing solutions that increase the number of capable professionals. Casey is the technical editor of five textbooks: Ethical Hacking & Systems Defense, Linux Server Fundamentals, Information Security Fundamentals, Introduction to Scripting, and Networking Fundamentals. Casey earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of St. Thomas and an M.A. in psychology from Duquesne University.

About the Host

A University of Pittsburgh graduate, James Kowatch has worked in the training, virtualization, and curriculum development business for 16 years. Initially, with Pearson Education, Jim managed training, education, and solutions development for the northeast United States. After that, he founded Infosec Learning to develop a better and more scalable way to deliver computer, cyber, and information security training. Jim currently lives in Baltimore, MD and manages the day to day operations of Infosec Learning and the 180 organizations that they serve.

Join the Community

Technology in Schools is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net where district administrators, school leaders, and all educators can share ideas, examples, and resources that relate to integrating technology effectively in schools.

INFOSECInfosec Learning provides learning institutions with turn-key, innovative, and impactful virtual labs for hands-on, personalized learning. We have over 200 labs. The National Cyberwatch Center is a consortium of institutions focused on collaborative efforts to advance Information Security education and strengthen the national cybersecurity workforce.