Cybersecurity training is spreading from high-tech and government offices into high schools, libraries and workplaces near you. Called the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) and coordinated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) , the new interagency program aims to promote cybersecurity awareness and know-how across the country and among citizens of all ages.
NICE is an outgrowth of the 2008 Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, which called for extending cybersecurity training throughout the federal government. The subsequent Cyberspace Policy Review, completed in May 2009, concurred and also recommended expanding cybersecurity education to all citizens, starting in kindergarten.
"The NICE initiative recognizes that computer technology is an integral part of our society and with that comes the need for everyone to be able to protect themselves and their private information when using the Internet and be able to trust all the other critical cyber infrastructure we all depend on daily," says NIST's Ernest L. McDuffie, who leads the government-wide initiative. "The program's goal is to enhance the security of the country through enhanced awareness and education, which in turn will improve computer security in the workplace and at home, as well as prepare future employees for the cybersecurity workforce."
NICE is divided into four tracks:
- National Cybersecurity Awareness is led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Public service campaigns will promote cybersecurity and responsible use of the Internet, encourage students to pursue careers in cybersecurity, and motivate interest in the topic among children.
- Formal Cybersecurity Education is led by the U.S. Department of Education and the Office for Science and Technology Policy. They are responsible for reaching out and increasing knowledge and appreciation of cybersecurity across all levels of education, from kindergarten through college and vocational school. The focus is on the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines, with the aim of creating a pipeline of skilled workers for private and public sector jobs.
- Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Structure is led by the Office of Personnel Management. The workforce team will define cybersecurity jobs in the federal government and skills and competencies required. They will also identify new strategies to ensure federal agencies attract, recruit and retain skilled employees to accomplish cybersecurity missions.
- Cybersecurity Workforce Training and Professional Development is led by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security. This track is divided into four areas that range from law enforcement and counterintelligence to general use of information technology.
View NIST's video on cybersecurity for small businesses.