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California groups collaborate on cybersecurity education program

The new program, Cyberhub, will organize the state's many leaders in the field to promote cybersecurity involvement among students.

By Ryan Johnston for Edscoop

A host of California governmental, industry and education partners have announced the joint creation of an educational cybersecurity organization known as the California Cyberhub.

The main point of contact is ca-cyberhub.org, a website intended to be a “virtual, nimble online community dedicated to developing the future workforce of ethical cybersecurity experts in California,” according to a news release. Multiple governmental, private sector and educational bodies supported Cyberhub's creation, organizers said.

 The website "is a collaborative forum and action site for all those entities to work together,” said Donna Woods, California Cyberhub developer and product specialist.

Ultimately, Woods told EdScoop, the impetus behind the organization and website was the need for collaboration and structure around the topic of cybersecurity within California’s vast systems of K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. Woods also emphasized that other states should feel free to adopt the concept.

Cyberhub officials plan to use the website to offer cybersecurity-based educational resources, event calendars, news and planning resources for individuals or groups who want to explore cybersecurity.

"The California Cyberhub website provides educators at all levels the resources and tools to support students to train for and excel in a cybersecurity career pathway while having fun as they learn," said Amy Tong, director and state CIO of the California Department of Technology, in an official statement.

California currently has around 45,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs, a Cyberseek.org study found, and researchers only expect demand for cybersecurity professionals to rise in the coming years.

While the aim of the organization is to increase student engagement in and understanding of the field of cybersecurity, the website will serve a greater purpose, officials said.

“Indirectly, the site is aimed at administrators and facilitators of student-centered cybersecurity training and competitions,” Steve Wright, director of ICT & digital media for California Community Colleges, told EdScoop. “There has been a great deal of interest and many programs initiated for students ... so there was a need to establish a centralized support and sharing center. The combined goals are to increase the number of students, institutions and competitions in cybersecurity year over year.”

Last month’s California Cybersecurity Innovation Challenge is one such competition. Hosted by the the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-BIZ, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the event included more than 100 students competing in cybersecurity-based challenges.

While students were competing, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, the Department of Technology, the National Guard, the FBI, the Los Angeles Unified School District and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo drafted new training materials, online resources and cybersecurity career-planning infrastructure “so that colleges can hit the ground running with planning and development at the start of the fall semester,” according to the release.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.