Cybersecurity is an important and growing concern— one that touches every economic sector and is essential for national security, according to Max Shuftan, the program director of SANS CyberTalent at the SANS Institute in North Bethesda.
Shuftan says cybersecurity affects the financial health and wellbeing of the global business community and consumers alike.
“We are more connected to the internet than ever before. It’s not just computers that store valuable data and are connected to networks— when we use our smart phones, cars, wireless apps and a host of other devices, we put ourselves, our businesses, and/or governmental
organizations at risk,” Shuftan said.
The SANS Institute— noted by many as the world’s leading provider of cybersecurity training and certification— has been awarded an Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) implementation grant by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
The $500,000 award, which is for the period of January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019, will be used by SANS to develop and launch the SANS Cyber Workforce Academy – Maryland.
The Department of Labor and SANS will provide 80 qualified Maryland residents with full scholarships to a fast-track career in cybersecurity.
Training will be held at various locations throughout the state in conjunction with online classes. Applications are now open and will close on March 8, 2018. To apply, visit: www.sans.org/cyberworkforce-md.
“Organizations are fighting hard to prevent costly breaches that have the power to tarnish a brand’s reputation as well as lead to losses of data, IP, consumer PII, and more,” Shuftan said. “The past years have seen breaches of notable organizations such as Equifax, Target, Yahoo, Anthem, and Home Depot. The negative impacts extend beyond the business to include customers and the nation at-large. The need for skilled cybersecurity professionals has never been more paramount and the constant talent shortage is a serious issue for all employers.”
Funding from the grant allows for a three-to-four month accelerated cybersecurity training program that offers students advanced technical training, industry-recognized certifications and hands-on cyber defense and incident handling skills that most Maryland employers seek.
The Academy will place an emphasis on veterans and women, according to a news release. SANS is collaborating with industry and nonprofits to support applicant recruitment and post-graduation job searches.
The USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore and the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu will help academy graduates blend their newly acquired technical skills with soft skills like communication and leadership, to increase their attractiveness to employers, SANS officials said.
Established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization, SANS has more than 50 different courses at over 200 live cyber security training and online events.
“The [grant] will provide scholarships for 80 individuals in Maryland coming from non-cybersecurity backgrounds and participants will receive cyber defense and incident handling training, and a pathway into the workforce,” Shuftan said, noting the full commercial value of the scholarships is over $1 million.
Shuftan says EARN counts as an innovative, industry-led initiative supported by the state that helps businesses cultivate the skilled workforce they need to compete while preparing Maryland residents for meaningful careers.
“The program, which has been recognized as a national best practice in work force development, awards funding to strategic industry partnerships comprised of employers, nonprofits, higher education, local workforce development boards, and local government,” Shuftan said.
The initiative also means more minorities will be assisted, he said.
“Yes, SANS and its partners are committed to increasing diversity in this fast-growing industry. We will serve minorities through this Workforce Academy program through Veterans’ scholarships, Women’s scholarships, and general jobseeker scholarships,” Shuftan said. “SANS is launching a separate Minorities scholarship program later this year, building on our existing Veterans’ success and Women’s Immersion Academies, as well.”