The federal Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, in partnership with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has awarded $2 million to the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute. This consortium will draw upon expertise from The University of Tulsa, Purdue University, Auburn University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
CIRI, a DHS Center of Excellence, will develop a plan that the security agency can execute to build a national network of cybersecurity technical institutes. The universities will conduct research and develop a consolidated plan for an academic hub-and-spoke model to create a network to educate and train cybersecurity professionals.
The U.S. Department of Commerce and DHS co-authored a report to the president titled “Supporting the Growth and Sustainment of the Nation’s Cybersecurity Workforce.” The report describes both cybersecurity workforce needs and projected shortages.
The majority of U.S. critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies, making its cybersecurity workforce vital. The federal government depends heavily on its cybersecurity workforce, supplemented by contractors.
“I think this is going to be a transformative cyber initiative for our country,” said Sujeet Shenoi, director of TU’s renowned Cyber Corps program and F.P. Walter Professor of Computer Science. “We will be working with many universities, community colleges and technology centers to build academic capacity and develop a workforce in two important areas – incident response and industrial control systems.”
In addition to Shenoi, TU Professors Mauricio Papa and Vidhyashree Nagaraju from computer science and Sal Aurigemma from computer information systems are involved in this important initiative.
In 2017, there were an estimated 299,000 active openings for cybersecurity-related jobs in the United States. Globally, projections suggest a cybersecurity workforce shortage of 1.8 million by 2022.
“CISA sees the growing cybersecurity workforce shortage in the United States as a national security risk,” said Bryan Ware, the agency’s assistant director of cybersecurity. “With our government and private sector partners, CISA is striving to ‘secure tomorrow’ by preparing, growing and sustaining the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.”
CIRI was established by DHS in 2015 to focus on creating networks in academia for research and education that enhance the resiliency of the nation’s critical infrastructures and the businesses and public entities that own and operate those assets and systems. CIRI is one of 10 Centers of Excellence managed by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate.
“This is exactly the type of national need that the DHS Centers of Excellence network was established to help our nation address,” said Gia Harrigan, S&T federal program manager for the institute. “Building capacity to address critical workforce and education gaps across academia and the broader Homeland Security Enterprise is one of the things they do best.”
CISA leads the national effort to understand and manage critical infrastructure risk and works with partners to defend against threats and build more secure and resilient cyber networks and infrastructure.
To find out more about TU’s leadership in cybersecurity, please visit utulsa.edu/cyber.