Technology allows us to connect with our friends, family and coworkers over a distance but as it becomes more prevalent in our lives, it also opens us up to cyberattacks. Uber is the latest large company to fall victim to a cybersecurity attack. One employee provided personal information to someone thought to be a coworker, and the hacker gained access to the company’s internal database.
According to Statista, phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming was by far the top cybercrime category reported in 2021. While this recent breach at Uber appears to be motivated by a hacker’s desire for publicity, the ride-sharing service also suffered a massive cybersecurity breach in 2016. During that event, the hackers stole personal information from 57 million Uber customers and drivers who trusted the company with their information. If large businesses can fall victim to a cyberattack, imagine how easy it would be to target an individual or a small business that may not have the resources to recover.
Implementing cybersecurity systems is a critical focus area for the federal government to protect not only national security but also the e-commerce sector of the economy. In order to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals, we also need data science professionals to research and interpret data to provide insights into potential security risks. Cybersecurity professionals then use those insights to create security systems.
Developing the Workforce Post-Pandemic
The frequency of cyberattacks increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), cybercriminals often take advantage of challenging times, such as pandemics, to strike. For example, they might send phishing emails about unemployment or medical information to try to trick users into providing personal information.
Even though the worst of the pandemic appears to be fading in most parts of the world, its impact on our technology and internet use is here to stay. Many organizations are still opting for virtual gatherings or work-from-home models, whether hybrid or full time.
Working from home enables more cybersecurity risks than working from the office because of several factors, such as less secure wi-fi networks and unsecured video meetings. Data science and cybersecurity professionals can work together to ensure security systems stay up to date to combat cybercrimes.
Cybersecurity and Data Science Education
According to Cyberseek, a project that provides detailed information about the cybersecurity job market, there are over 700,000 cybersecurity job openings, but only enough professionals to fill 68% of those positions. Data science has a similar outlook with an expected 36% increase in employment by the year 2031, but not enough qualified data science professionals to meet the demand. To fill these positions, and keep up with increasing demand, we need to create more opportunities for professionals to become qualified in the cybersecurity and data science fields.
ABET currently accredits cybersecurity programs at the bachelor’s and associate levels in addition to data science programs at the bachelor’s level. The addition of cybersecurity associate degrees makes accredited program opportunities accessible to more students since they can be completed in as little as two years, allowing more students to become qualified faster for many jobs (but generally for a different set of career opportunities). Associate programs also often follow a state framework which is commonly tied directly to the needs of the local workforce.
Raising Awareness & Providing Resources
The CISA and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) often work together to raise awareness of potential cyberthreats by providing essential resources for implementing cybersecurity at home and in the office.
Together, CISA and NCA sponsor Cybersecurity Awareness Month each October to help individuals and businesses protect themselves while online. This year’s theme is “See Yourself in Cyber,” which encourages individuals and organizations to take basic steps to protect themselves and others from cyberattacks. They also encourage professionals to discover the cybersecurity field in hopes of filling the gaps with skilled workers.
Societies like INFORMS provide resources for organizations to better understand the importance of data analytics for their company. ABET is exhibiting the 2022 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Indianapolis this October to support and contribute to learning opportunities for data science professionals, students and industry experts.
Cybersecurity and data science work together to combat data breaches like the recent Uber attack. We need to ensure there are enough qualified workers to keep ourselves, our economy and our nation safe. We need to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and data science education in developing professionals in those fields, as our dependence on technology and the internet continues to grow and evolve.