Dr Anthony Keane
Head of School of Informatics and Cybersecurity, TU Dublin
Dr Christina Thorpe
Head of Discipline of Cybersecurity, TU Dublin
Building a robust defence against nationwide cyberattacks requires inspiring young minds to pursue cybersecurity careers and closing the skills gap in the current marketplace.
Cybersecurity is increasingly essential as the demand for online protection becomes more urgent than ever, says Dr Christina Thorpe, Head of Cybersecurity at TU Dublin. “There’s a huge and growing dependence on technology within society, but there is also a growing number of hackers and cybercriminals that see this growth as an opportunity to exploit technology, steal data and gain financially,” she says. “In simple terms, we’re becoming more vulnerable and they’re growing in number and becoming more sophisticated.”
This demand for better risk management and more cybersecurity professionals means career prospects for new graduates are soaring, says Thorpe. The challenge is trying to fill that skill gap. “There’s a deficit of talent across the board globally and in Ireland,” she says. “There are thousands of unfilled vacancies every year in Ireland. Globally, that would be millions.”
Choosing your course
In responding to the challenge of closing the skills gap and building resilience in the market, TU Dublin has taken a flexible learning approach.
Students can take courses leading to certificates, diplomas, degrees and master’s qualifications. “It enables people to upskill or reskill in a way that suits their current lifestyle,” says Dr Anthony Keane, Head of School of Informatics and Cybersecurity.
Budget-friendly, online Springboard-funded courses are offered for the unemployed or those seeking to re-enter the workforce and covering a range of in-demand roles in cybersecurity,” Dr Keane says. “These courses have contributed greatly to strengthening the resiliency of people’s employment and the cyber defence of companies.”
These courses have contributed greatly to strengthening the resiliency of people’s employment and the cyber defence of companies.”Dr Anthony Keane
Training for companies
Forging collaborative partnerships with companies is another way for educational institutions to help upskill the current talent pool through in-company training. “It empowers employees to become cybersecurity champions within their teams,” Dr Keane says.
“Cybersecurity practices should become second nature within a company. We need to develop an automatic response to cyber threats, similar to how we instinctively take safety measures in everyday life.”
The University provides courses tailored to the companies’ particular needs and through the Collaboratory, can deliver professional in-person SOC analyst training. “It’s a very effective way for companies to get the training they want with the people they need to be trained,” says Dr Keane. It also helps ensure companies are able to meet current and new EU legal requirements.
“These regulations fuel further demand for cybersecurity professionals as companies strive to demonstrate compliance with baseline security standards,” he says. “The risks of not doing so are high. The regulations could impose fines and newer regulations could even allow for the imprisonment of company directors who fail to meet standards.”
Education for companies also goes beyond the campus, says Dr Keane, in the form of The Cyber Skills Project which is a nationally-funded project from the HEA HCI Pillar 3 scheme and is designed to deliver specialised training for specific cybersecurity job roles. TU Dublin partners with MTU and UL to deliver professional level courses with cyberattack simulations in a cyber-range such that students experience handling both offensive and defensive strategies in a safe environment.”
Early cybersecurity learning
Building cyber resilience in the market can start with secondary school students, says Dr Thorpe. The University runs summer camps aimed at children aged from 13 to 17 years old. “It’s about instilling an awareness and a belief that a career in cybersecurity is a possibility and showing them what it’s about,” she says. “It helps undo any stereotype they may have such as cybersecurity is boring, or it’s just for boys — or it’s a job where you stay at a computer all day. It shows them that cybersecurity is actually varied, interesting and doable.”