Cybersecurity Workforce a Priority of SC Government

by Barry Waldman

Gov. Henry McMaster and officials from the state Commerce Department announced recently that the state will spend the year and more than half-a-million dollars strengthening the state’s cybersecurity industry. Data breaches are a major threat to business today, costing an estimated $200 billion dollars annually in the U.S. alone and taking an average of 277 days to identify and isolate, according to IBM. 

One element of the effort to strengthen cybersecurity in the state will be aimed at increasing the native workforce in that field. The demand for individuals trained in cybersecurity is expected to total 6,000 over the next 10 years. The Citadel and College of Charleston have already implemented a plan to address some of that need.

A Cybersecurity Certificate Program

The schools offer a graduate degree in cybersecurity and a cybersecurity certificate, whichallows working professionals to earn a credential in the industry with just four graduate courses that can be completed in just a year-and-a- half. The certificate program caters to individuals with a background in computer networking and programming.

The certificate program prepares students to do the following:

  • Describe basic components of cybersecurity
  • Characterize the security profile of different types of networks
  • Analyze and use classical and public key cryptography algorithms
  • Secure a system from different kinds of attacks
  • Analyze security of a cyber system and perform risk assessment
  • Discuss legal and ethical issues relating to cybersecurity.

Catching Up to the Competition in Cybersecurity

Both the state’s initiative and the colleges’ course were spurred by demand from industry in South Carolina, which lags its neighbors in developing cybersecurity professionals.

Brian Shea, a consultant with a firm hired to analyze the state’s cyber security, said the state lags the national average in training workers as information security analysts. It also lags in business investment in cybersecurity.

“These jobs are critical for companies and government today because intellectual property is under attack from cyber warfare,” said Dr. Jonathan Sun, associate professor and director of the College of Charleston’s computer and information science program. 

Jobs in this field also pay in the $60,000 range to start, with plenty of room for growth into six figures. Partnerships with the local tech community ensure that jobs await every graduate. In addition, certificate holders can continue for a master’s degree having banked about half the credits needed to graduate.

Lowcountry Businesses Need More People Trained in Cybersecurity

The growing Charleston Digital Corridor has a voracious appetite for people with skills in skills in network security, information privacy, digital forensics, cyberattacks and defensesCompanies like Adapt Forward, GitLab and CMIT Solutions provide cybersecurity services and nearly every computer company offers some services that include aspects of cybersecurity.

When unveiling the state’s new initiative, the Governor acknowledged the critical need for a homegrown cybersecurity workforce. 

“Protecting its citizens is the most critical job a government is tasked with – from enemies we can see and those we can’t,” he said. “Cyberattacks are among the most common and potentially crippling offenses that face our state and country. With partnerships like this one, we are committing to being as proactive as possible in protecting our people and doing everything in our power to make sure we are as safe and secure as possible.”

For more information on the cybersecurity certificate program, click here