The demand for cybersecurity professionals has never been so high. Some experts say millions of IT security positions are going unfilled because there just aren't enough people with the right skills.
Herzing's accelerated Cybersecurity Specialist training program was specifically developed to turn out grads who can fill that shortage.
Derek Lewis is the Vice-President of Academics at Herzing College Toronto. He has extensive experience in both cybersecurity and education.
We spoke with Derek recently to learn about the latest trends in the IT security field, what employers are looking for, and what makes Herzing's program so unique.
Here's what we found out.
Q: Derek, what is your background in IT and cybersecurity?
Derek: I have been working in the field of IT and education for over 20 years. I actually owned my own college, specializing in IT training.
I also worked as a consultant. My main focus was on educating end users on best security practices and making them aware of common cyber threats and traps.
One of the most common threats is called social engineering. This is where hackers target company end users to gain access to the organization’s systems.
They use tools like social media to gather personal information, gain the end user's trust, and get access to company systems.
Hackers are really good at doing this. End users need training on how to spot suspicious behaviour, phishing scams, etc.
Q: Why are we seeing such huge demand in cybersecurity right now? What’s driving this trend?
Derek: The cybersecurity field has grown into its own specialty and discipline. Companies didn’t used to hire dedicated cyber specialists, but now it’s become a skillset unto itself.
Cybersecurity is actually an important aspect of any senior IT and networking positions. Anyone who works in these roles needs to understand the threat landscape and best practices in information security.
Another key factor is the evolution of mobile devices. In the past 2 to 3 years, we have seen really massive growth in this area.
Fifteen years ago, we did everything from our desktop. Now we all have several mobile devices.
So there are many more opportunities for hackers, and not enough trained cyber professionals to keep up with those threats.
Q: Do you know which skills are most in demand right now? What are employers looking for?
Derek: It’s really a comprehensive skillset employers are looking for. It’s not just about one trick, tool, or technique.
Employers want to hire people who can look at the organization, identify all the security flaws, and choose the tools and technologies that should be applied to those specific needs.
Companies need people who can think critically and laterally. Skills and tactics come and go and evolve over time, so it’s having that cybersecurity mindset that really matters the most. That’s what sets people apart.
Think about police officers who have been on the force for 20 or 30 years. Tactics and technology have changed since they first started. It’s their experience, mindset, and years of accumulated knowledge that helps them solve cases.
Q: How is Herzing’s new Cybersecurity program different from other training options out there? How is it unique?
Derek: This program is special because we train students to develop that cybersecurity mindset companies really need right now.
Of course, we equip students with all the tools and technologies needed to protect systems. But we also focus strongly on those fundamental skills that help them build a long and successful career in this quickly evolving industry.
We teach students how to be critical thinkers, how to look at a workplace and not just secure the network or server, but the entire environment.
We give them the tools they can build on to advance their career. The basic concepts, the mindset, the strategy you need to get your foot in the door.
Essentially, we teach students how to think like a cyber criminal. This is how you learn to anticipate attacks, identify weaknesses, and develop effective defense policies and procedures.
Q: How important are certifications for today’s cybersecurity professionals? Are we seeing more people getting certified?
Derek: Yes, more people are pursuing cybersecurity certifications—like Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)—to prove their skills and knowledge, set themselves apart, and qualify for more advanced positions.
Anyone can say they’re a cybersecurity professional, but having respected certifications really proves your expertise.
Certifications like SSCP and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) are developed by world-renowned organizations. The exams are challenging; if you pass, that tells employers you are extremely proficient in cybersecurity.
Herzing's Cybersecurity program is based on these certifications. We teach students the skills they need to get hired, prepare for the exams, and get the work experience they need to get certified.
Q: What would be a typical, entry-level job in IT security for a new graduate of Herzing’s program?
Derek: Graduates have a few different entry-level job options. For example, they can start out as help desk cybersecurity first responders.
This involves taking calls from organizations who are reporting potential hacks and helping them work through first steps to confirm and address those breaches.
Another option is assisting senior penetration testers. This would involve tasks like social engineering information gathering.
For example, you would scour company and employee information to see what is public and available online and develop profiles like hackers would, to manipulate ends users and gain access to the company’s systems.
Then you would present that information to the users to show them how vulnerable they are, and explain steps and procedures to improve cybersecurity.
This would be part of a corporate cyber training program designed to improve end user awareness and seal up vulnerabilities in the company's environment.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CYBERSECURITY TRAINING AT HERZING
Herzing's unique Cybersecurity Specialist program takes just 12 months and includes a 5-week internship.
The program also includes preparation for leading IT security certifications, such as SSCP and CISSP.
Through our partnership with global cybersecurity leader Fortinet, students also have access to Fortinet courses and certifications.
Wondering if our program is right for you? An Admissions Advisor can answer all your questions about courses, costs, careers, and more.
Click below to explore the Cybersecurity Specialist program and chat live with an Advisor. We're here to help!