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The New Frontier of Cyber Security

Angela AuthorWritten by Angela Orebaugh, PhD, Program Director and Faculty for the Certificate in Cybersecurity, UVA School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Technological advances are constantly transforming the cyber security landscape with emerging threats and risks.  We are now entering a period of innovation enabling the interaction between cyber, such as smartphones and the Internet, and physical systems, such as electricity distribution, automobiles, and the human body.  These new advancements span a large breadth of industry sectors including transportation, healthcare, building and construction, manufacturing, and utilities.  The Internet of Things makes consumer level cyber physical systems a reality with smart phone connectivity for home automation and automobiles.  Cyber physical systems and the Internet of Things are founded in the collecting and sharing of data, thus creating a plethora of opportunities in big data and predictive analytics.  While cyber physical systems advances solve problems and create efficiencies through improved performance and functionality, they also open up systems to new vulnerabilities and attacks.

We are on the verge of the perfect storm of rapid modernization, workforce shortages, and aging approaches that is driving cyber security into uncharted territory.  This new era of connectivity through cyber physical systems and the Internet of Things is creating unprecedented demand for cyber security professionals.  A Stanford University study estimated 209,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S., up 74% over the past 5 years.  Cisco warns that the worldwide shortage of cybersecurity professionals has exceeded 1 million.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for cybersecurity professionals to grow by 53% by 2018.  Industries that traditionally haven’t required positions for cyber security professionals are now creating dedicated cyber security teams.  The cybersecurity workforce shortage will lead to increased exploits of networks and data, many of which can be prevented with new security practices.  We’ve already seen examples of cyber attacks in this new territory including Target, Jeep Cherokee, and Bowman Dam with reactive responses instead of proactive approaches.  There is a need for cyber security professionals to create and support new approaches and models for securing cyber physical systems.  Additionally, there is a need for cyber security professionals with an understanding of big data and the analytics to process the wealth of cyber information generated by these new technologies.

Smartphone Lock Cyber Security

The new frontier of cyber security is creating a revolutionary cyber security professional.  New roles in cyber security are emerging and will continue to grow as technology adoption increases.  These roles include data science and cyber data analytics, which involve machine learning and data mining tools such as Splunk, Hadoop, and Python.  The new cyber security professional will use data science and analytics skills to harness the vast amount of data to create new insights and stronger proactive cyber defenses.  In addition to a strong data science skillset, the new cyber security professional will possess a variety of interdisciplinary skills across technology, computer science, policy, leadership, and psychology.  Softer skillsets include communications, problem solving, creative thinking, adaptability, and autodidactism.

As we embark on this exciting new adventure of technology innovation, we are presented with a field for discovery and the opportunity to expand the boundaries of our knowledge in the new frontier of cyber security with the avant-garde cyber security professionals as our pioneers.