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US Gov’t Tackles Cybersecurity Skill Shortage with $3.6M Investment

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US Gov't Tackles Cybersecurity Skill Shortage with $3.6M Investment

The United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that it will provide nearly $3.6 million in funding to support the development of a skilled cybersecurity workforce. The funding will be distributed among 18 education and community-focused organizations across 15 states, with each organization receiving approximately $200,000. The aim is to address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals and enhance the ability of businesses to protect themselves against cyber threats.

NIST, which operates under the Department of Commerce, will oversee the cooperative agreements through its partnership with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). NICE brings together government agencies, academic institutions, and private entities to promote cybersecurity education and training initiatives. Laurie E. Locascio, the director of NIST, emphasized the importance of investing in a highly skilled workforce to safeguard the country’s economic and national security against the growing number of cyber threats.

According to the U.S. CyberSeek tool, which was funded by NICE and analyzes data on the cybersecurity job market, there were approximately 450,000 cybersecurity job openings in the past year. There were only 82 qualified workers available for every 100 job openings. This significant gap highlights the urgency of the current initiative to address the shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel.

Data from Statista reveals that in 2023 alone, there were over 100 reported cases of private data exposure in U.S. government entities, compared to 74 cases the previous year. These incidents compromised the private data of approximately 15 million individuals. The overall impact of data breaches in 2023, as reported by the Consumer Sentinel Network, affected more than 353 million people. The Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Internet Crime report indicates a 10% increase in cybercrime complaints from the public in 2023 compared to the previous year, totaling 880,418 complaints. The projected cost of cybercrime damages is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025.

The recipients of the NIST funding will collaborate through the Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) cybersecurity education and workforce development program. This initiative aims to forge partnerships with local businesses and nonprofit organizations that require a cybersecurity workforce. By aligning with these entities, the grantees will contribute to the development of a robust cybersecurity workforce that can effectively respond to evolving threats.

In addition to this recent funding announcement, NIST has previously led efforts to establish an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Institute consortium. This consortium was formed in response to an executive order on AI safety policies issued by the Biden administration in November 2022. These combined efforts reflect NIST’s commitment to promoting cybersecurity education, training, and research to mitigate the risks posed by cyber threats and ensure national security.

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