As the power of technology continues to increase, so has the potential for cyber security threats. For this reason, the federal government is increasing its efforts to train young Americans to work in the field and protect the nation from cybercrime.
Even as other federal programs have been cut back – particularly in the Department of Defense – there has been an expansion of cyber security training programs.
Six airmen recently became the first graduating class of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, an elite program that teaches its students how to fight in cyberspace, The Wall Street Journal reported. Throughout their training, these graduates learned how to track electronic intruders, launch cyberattacks and protect networks.
“We have to be able to succeed against an enemy that wants to attack us in any way,” Air Force Col. Robert Garland told The Wall Street Journal.
The nation is looking for prepare new cyber security experts amid increased concerns about cyber attacks from foreign enemies. The current administration is attempting to adopt both offensive and defensive cyber security techniques in various government departments, and the New York Times reported in 2012 that the United States and Israel have been working together on cyber strategies to derail Iran’s nuclear program.
In January, the National Security Agency announced the launch of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, according to a press release. This college course will train students in the areas of computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering so they can better protect the nation from cybercrime.
Cyber security programs have also become popular at other universities across the country, delivered both online and on-campus.
While the country works to train the next generation of cybercrime experts, there has also been debate over whether the nation should adopt a law to protect itself from cyberattacks.
The federal government officially began its cyber security initiative in 2008 with formation of the U.S. Cyber Command, a division of the Department of Defense charged with protecting the nation from cyber attacks. Recently, Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress that the United States loses $250 billion annually in intellectual property and $338 billion annually in financial assets to cyber thieves.
In a separate speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Alexander said his concern is that cyber attacks will inevitably move from “disruptive to destructive," according toHomeland Security Today.
Alexander said he supports legislation that would prevent cyberattacks on the nation, claiming such a law would still protect individuals' privacy, The Associated Press reports.
As cyber security maintains its position at the forefront of American politics, students who are interested in the field can earn a bachelor's or master's degree in cyber security. Currently, a wide range of schools across the country offer graduate and undergraduate programs on this topic.