The world of cybercrime never sleeps. There is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. Every day approximately 230,000 malware samples are created by cybercriminals and more than 4,000 ransomware attacks are deployed. To combat this never-ending siege, billions of dollars and countless hours are spent trying to respond to and out-strategize bad attacks, but there simply aren’t enough cybersecurity professionals to meet the demand. By 2021, there will be a global shortage of three million cybersecurity professionals, according to Cisco research.

Every industry is affected by cybercrime. It used to be that healthcare, financial, and government sectors were the top targets, but now manufacturing and transportation are making the list. In fact, transportation went from No. 10 to No. 2 most attacked industries in 2018, according to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. Because of its growing emphasis on software and connectivity, the automotive industry is increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, despite its complicated attack surfaces such as remote keyless systems and infotainment applications.

The cost of these attacks is astronomical. According to the FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report, in the United States alone, cybercrime cost organizations $2.7 billion in 2018. In 2017 the estimated global cost of cybercrime was between $445-$608 billion, according to McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. These costs not only include service disruption, but loss of productivity, reputation damage, and other business impacts.

So, what can be done to meet the demand? There are many cybersecurity education programs available, but are they effectively preparing students to join the workforce?

Filling the skills shortage is not going to be remedied by using a traditional education model.  Cisco has designed the Networking Academy portfolio to include the most relevant, comprehensive, and innovative learning experience for workforce development. The courses are immersive and hands-on. They include interactive visual content, labs, simulation and visualization tools, gaming, and many more opportunities for students to learn 21st century skills. Not to mention countless opportunities to develop the necessary soft skills the industry requires by collaborating with other students to solve problems together.

The Networking Academy cybersecurity courses, including Cybersecurity Essentials, CCNA Security, and CCNA Cybersecurity Operations, prepare students for careers as security analysts, incident responders, and security operations center (SOC) analysts. Courses can be taken in-person at approximately 12,000 learning institutions around the world and some are self-paced, offered online at netacad.com.

Key to the success of Networking Academy are the partnerships with public and private entities throughout the world.  Countries recognize the benefit of increasing their human capital, and many are eager to work with Cisco to provide cybersecurity training to diverse populations that may not have been included in traditional educational models including veterans, prisoners, and people with disabilities.

Over the past several years, Networking Academy has seen positive results from government-funded initiatives targeting under-served populations. In Italy, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Justice are offering digital skills training to prison inmates. The United Kingdom is making cybersecurity training available for police officers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  In Israel, the Ministry of Labor is supporting Cyber Ops training for those with high-functioning autism.

However, as any student will tell you – success depends very much on the quality of the instructors.

“Instructors are a very vital part of the Cisco Networking Academy ecosystem. Our instructors are not only highly skilled, but they are a passionate group, motivated by a deeper mission to help our students reach their full potential,” says Swati Handa, senior product manager, Cisco Networking Academy. “We know that providing the best learning experience for our students means providing the best experience for our instructors. That’s why we focus on three things for our instructors – their experience, their development, and their recognition.”

Networking Academy instructors not only have access to state-of-the-art tools and technologies, but Networking Academy’s learning management system that allows them to focus on teaching instead of administering their classes. Additionally, every quarter Cisco provides online professional development courses as well as regular recognition programs, including the Cybersecurity Champion award.

Students come to the Cisco Networking Academy to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to start or advance their careers and key to helping students on their career path is Networking Academy’s Talent Bridge program. The program offers several valuable resources, including a job matching engine to connect students to jobs within Cisco and Cisco’s channel partners, career advice, a LinkedIn alumni network, and experience-building opportunities like the Dream Team.

The cybersecurity industry will continue to grow. In fact, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, approximately $6 trillion will be spent globally on cybersecurity by 2021, which is a more than 50% increase from 2018. This means there will be more job opportunities for more people around the world. However, meeting the demand requires providing both the cutting-edge curriculum and career development resources students need to thrive in this fast-paced, constantly evolving field.

To learning more about the cybersecurity courses offered by the Cisco Networking Academy click here.


Laura Quintana

Vice President and General Manager

Cisco Networking Academy