University of Arizona receives nearly $6 million to grow cybersecurity workforce

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 5:50 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With hundreds of thousands of jobs unfilled, there’s a growing need for more cybersecurity professionals.

Cyber attacks are becoming more and more common, and hackers can get into personal devices easier than ever before.

“Cybersecurity professionals will be a very critical part in creating more security awareness,” said Jason Denno, the director of cyber operations at the University of Arizona.

That’s the goal: be more cyber aware across the board. It’s something Denno says close to $6 million from the state’s Technology and Research Initiative Fund will help them accomplish.

There are around 600,000 job openings in this field, but there’s a significant gap between how many jobs need to be filled and how many people actually qualify for them.

With this new funding, the university will be able to grow their program and fill that gap.

“With about 900 students, this money Is meant to get us to about 2,000 students by 2025 and then we have a goal that’s beyond this project to get to 5,000 students by 2030,” he said.

The university will be able to hire more highly qualified faculty members, advisors, and upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate more students.

“It’s designed to double the size of the program, while maintaining, if not increasing our standards and being able to continue to pump out the best cyber graduates in the nation,” Denno explained.

These graduates will work alongside other cybersecurity professionals to educate as well as protect the public from cyber attacks. There are more targets for hackers than ever before due to remote learning and work from home opportunities.

One of the biggest possible cyber threats is Russia. Denno says Russia has an extraordinarily, powerful cyber capability.

He says, “For the thought of them being able to reach out and cause an effect here in the U.S. through cyber space, I think it’s something that we ought to not only consider, but expect.”

Denno says, because of the sanctions and additional pressure the U.S. has put on Russia, he believes Russia will up their game and come after the U.S., which makes programs like this even more important in today’s world.

Denno has some tips to help you be cyber aware:

  • Turn off your computer if you’re not using it.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links in emails or texts.
  • Don’t run the computer as administrator.
  • Turn your firewall on.
  • Use strong passwords, the longer the better.

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