Journal Record Editor Joe Dowd, bottom right, is joined by a panel of cybersecurity experts on a recent JR/Now episode. (JR Screenshot)
OKLAHOMA CITY – Cyber-threats are growing in number and sophistication and so is the demand for trained specialists to protect businesses and government agencies.
A panel of experts discussed the issue with Journal Record Editor Joe Dowd during a recent JR/Now webinar.
“Every industry is impacted in this space,” said Josh Snavely, a cybersecurity and privacy expert and attorney at McAfee & Taft. “No one is safe, unfortunately.”
There are 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally and 455,000 in the U.S. right now, Snavely said.
Almost 4,000 of those vacant jobs are here in Oklahoma, said Jeremy Thomas, provost and vice president for student affairs at Oklahoma City Community College. “There’s definitely a need,” Thomas said.
“As more of these attacks happen it will start to cripple businesses,” said Vince Bridges, vice president for academic affairs at OCCC. “The shortage of workers is a serious issue.”
Bridges said cybersecurity is growing 33% faster than all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for new positions needed by 20230.
These are high-paying jobs with the median annual salary in Oklahoma about $88,000, he said.
OCCC is one of the colleges in Oklahoma that offers cybersecurity programs. John Claybon, dean of business and information technology, said the program was developed to meet the growing demand for “cyber warriors” needed to protect critical information systems.
Graduates earn a two-year degree in applied science in a dynamic, engaging and lucrative career field that is not going away, he said.
That degree and certifications are all that are needed for most private sector jobs, said Jon McHenry, professor of computer science at OCCC. Most federal government jobs require a bachelor’s degree, he said.
McHenry said many students are ex-military personnel who already have security clearance, former law enforcement officers, and workers in industries that ebb and flow like the oil field. Young people who are gamers often do well in the program because they “already have the mindset of trying to get around things and break them,” he said.
Cybersecurity is not just for coders, McHenry said. There also is the managerial side, people who create policy, analyze and audit. Even the automotive industry needs cyber experts because vehicles are internet capable, he said.
“This is not just a technology problem. It’s …