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A Dearth of Online Defenders

Millennials Want Cyber Careers, but lack preparation, poll shows

Competitors at the 2014 Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, part of Raytheon's efforts to train the next generation of cyber professionals. Raytheon sponsors the event, in part, to prepare millennials to lead in cyberspace.

In these days of increasing online threats, the good news is that more young people are interested in cybersecurity careers, according to a new survey.

The bad news is that too few members of the young generation known as millennials actually have the training necessary to help create a safer digital world.

“Both the private sector and educational institutions need to help inspire millennials to join our next generation of innovators and cyber defenders,” said Jack Harrington, vice president of cyber security and special missions for Raytheon.

Raytheon, a leader in the field, is committed to help create the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. In support of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, the company -- in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance – commissioned the survey to understand the career interests and level of career preparedness of millennials, as well as their online attitudes and behaviors.

Zogby Analytics conducted the Internet poll in August, surveying 1,000 adults in the U.S. aged 18 to 26. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

The Need for Cyber Champions

Demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing 12 times faster than the overall job market and more than three times faster than IT jobs, according to a study by analytics firm Burning Glass International.

Because members of the millennial generation are digital natives and will be in the workforce for decades to come, they hold the key to closing the cyber talent gap, according to Raytheon’s Harrington.

Nearly 40 percent of them millennial survey respondents said they are more likely now than they were a year ago to choose a career that makes the Internet safer and more secure. The problem is that almost two-thirds of the total don’t know or aren’t sure what the “cybersecurity” profession is.

In addition, a large majority — 64 percent — did not have access to the kind of classes in high school that build awareness or the necessary skills for cyber careers, including computer science.

The survey showed that awareness of online safety is rising, with 70 percent of millennials saying they follow cybersecurity concerns and are up-to-date on the topic. Eighty-seven percent believe they are personally responsible for their online safety.

Millennials are concerned about devices being infected by malware, credit or debit card theft, someone hacking into financial information or falling victim to online scams or fraud. The study shows, however, that they are still taking security risks such as connecting to public WiFi without a password.

And although the Raytheon study showed more millennials are receiving advice or counsel on cybersecurity careers, they still need help learning about opportunities in the field.

“This study shows that despite the fact that more students are generally interested in pursuing related careers,” Harrington said, “they often lack the needed skills and encouragement that our educators should be providing to grow the talent pipeline.”

Published: 09/26/2014

Last Updated: 10/01/2014

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