Schools Buy Into Cyber Security Business As Investment Swells

A cluster of the world’s leading business schools have begun rolling out cybersecurity classes, as markets begin recognizing its importance in the corporate world.

A cluster of the world’s leading business schools have begun rolling out cybersecurity classes, as markets begin recognising its importance in the corporate world.

Marisa Viveros, who leads IBM's Cyber Security Innovation initiative, said the need for companies to embed information-security measures in their operations is generating demand for business school graduates with cybersecurity skills.

“We’re facing an eyebrow-raising talent shortfall in cyber security,” Marisa said.

This has prompted schools to offer cybersecurity certificate programs for MBA and master students.

Investors have flocked to cybersecurity companies, flooding the sector with venture capital investment as they seek to back the latest technology to combat criminals online.

A bevy of these businesses have raised sizable investments to sell their products to corporations which are worried about the rising threat of cybercrime.

San Francisco-based Lookout announced today it had raised $150 million in the largest funding of its kind this year, led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

The cyberworld start-up has developed an app to combat smartphone theft, which has already convinced 50 million subscribers.

Investment in cyber security start-ups has already overtaken last year’s total of $1.1 billion, according to PrivCo, a financial data provider on privately held companies.

The investment boom comes as cybercrime is on the rise. Recent high-profile attacks, such as the data breach at US retailer Target, have highlighted the extent of the problem that businesses now face.

Cybercrime is up 14% on last year, according to a report from Cisco, the networking equipment company. As such, start-ups experimenting with new ideas have been welcomed with open arms by the venture capital industry.

A clutch of other security start-ups have raised massive amounts of investment capital this year, including Ionic Security, which raised $25.5 million, and Blackstone-backed Cylance, which recently closed a $20 million round.

IBM is addressing the shortage of cyber talent by dishing out funding for business schools. In the past two years, the company has invested in 20 universities around the world. But other business schools have developed their own programs.

At the Sellinger School of Business, students can sign up for a part-time, one-year cybersecurity certificate program. Post-graduate students can take classes as part of their MBA studies or as a standalone. Tuition is about $13,600. Last year, about 35 students were enrolled in the courses.

James Madison University runs an information security MBA program, which is accredited by AACSB. The Keller Graduate School of Management also offers an information security MBA, taught through distance learning and traditional courses, and students enrolled in the MBA program at Ferris State University in Michigan can opt to specialize in information security.

Carnegie Mellon, which has one of the US’s highest-ranking business schools, runs CyLab – one of the largest campus-based cybersecurity research and education centres in America.

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security jointly sponsor the school’s Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) program.

Dena Haritos Tsamitis, who leads the CAE initiatives, said: “Carnegie Mellon's programs help to prepare the next generation of cyber defenders, as proven by the success of our alumni.”

The Fox School of Business recently launched a Master of Science in Information Technology Auditing and Cyber-Security program. The course is designed to prepare graduates for roles in IT risk, assurance and cyber-security, at accounting firms and consultancies.

As demand for cybersecurity companies – and therefore revenue – is rising, there is thought to be a need for more senior managers.

A recent report from the UK’s National Audit Office said that security-educated graduates fall far short of demand. The inquiry suggested that it could take 20 years to fill this skills gap.

“Given the rapid and continuous evolution of threats, it’s critical that academic cybersecurity programs share best practices and curriculum updates,” Marisa said.

She added that businesses do not have to turn employees into cybersecurity experts. IBM for example requires all employees to complete digital training each year, she said, which covers matters from secure handling of client data to social media.

“Educating employees in IT and cyber security is one of the best investments a company can make,” Marisa added.



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