April 19, 2024
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NIST Boosts Cybersecurity Workforce with $3.6M Allocation

The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the grant of nearly $3.6 million in cooperative agreements to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

The move is intended to build a robust workforce capable of protecting firms from growing cyber threats.

Addressing Critical Workforce Shortages

On April 3, NIST, a Department of Commerce department, announced that 18 education and community-focused organizations in 15 states will receive grants averaging $200,000 apiece.

These funding will address the critical shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers, as identified by Laurie E. Locascio, NIST Director.

Locascio emphasized that economic and national security are dependent on developing a highly competent workforce capable of combating the ever-changing panorama of cyber threats.

The initiative is set to be a joint effort led by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a partnership of government, academia, and corporate groups. Using NICE’s multi-sectoral approach, the goal is to create collaboration among multiple stakeholders to strengthen cybersecurity capabilities.

Urgent Need Amid Escalating Cyber Threats

The urgency of such measures is underscored by alarming statistics.

According to the United States CyberSeek tool, which analyzes cybersecurity job market data, there were around 450,000 cybersecurity job opportunities in the previous year.

However, the available workforce was inadequate, with only 82 individuals available for every 100 job openings at the time.

Recent studies show an increase in cyber dangers. According to reports, private data exposures for U.S. government agencies have increased to over 100 incidents in 2023, up from 74 the year before. These breaches compromised the sensitive information of 15 million people.

Moreover, the Consumer Sentinel Network reported that in 2023, data breaches affected over 353 million people. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) received 880,418 cybercrime complaints in 2023, marking a 10% increase from the previous year.

A Collaborative Approach to Mitigate Cyber Risks

NIST’s investment aims to mitigate these risks by fostering the Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) cybersecurity education and workforce development.

Through this initiative, NIST plans to align with local businesses and non-profits to build a resilient cybersecurity workforce.

The move comes as part of broader efforts by NIST, which also spearheaded the establishment of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Institute consortium in November last year.

This initiative was in response to an executive order on AI safety policies issued by the Biden administration, demonstrating NIST’s commitment to addressing evolving cybersecurity challenges.

With cyber threats on the rise, initiatives like these are crucial in safeguarding national security and economic prosperity against digital adversaries.

Image by freepik

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