Authored by Swati Handa, Global Cybersecurity Strategy Manager, Cisco

This week in #EducationNow, join one of our cybersecurity experts to learn how Cisco Networking Academy is answering the call to cybersecurity education in a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

To say we live in vastly different times than we did six months ago is an understatement. COVID-19 has brought a rapid, seismic shift in how we work, play, and live. Now, more than ever, people are dependent on the internet for nearly every aspect of their lives – work, education, entertainment, healthcare, and more. But this comes with a tremendous risk – increased cyberattacks.

A recent global survey reveals that 91 percent of businesses reported an increase in cyberattacks with employees working from home during the pandemic – with the financial, healthcare, and government sectors being some of the hardest hit (Entrepreneur, 2020). Cyber criminals are capitalizing on health and economic fears surrounding the epidemic, attracting victims with false promises of cures, up-to-date infection statistics, stimulus checks, and more through phish kits, fraud kits, and malware delivery systems. Even before the crisis, CEOs ranked cybersecurity their number one concern (EY, 2019 CEO Imperative Study), and worldwide spending on IT security was forecast to reach $151 billion by 2023 (IDC, Worldwide Security Forecast, 2019–2023). Now things have changed. According to McKinsey & Company, many industries, including healthcare, financial services, technology, and the public sector, are projected to increase their cybersecurity spend to combat the rise in attacks.

Closing the cybersecurity skills gap

Cybersecurity can’t be left solely to technology. It needs human input, too. We need more cybersecurity professionals to help prevent and combat these attacks, but there is a dire shortage globally of 4.07 million cybersecurity professionals, according to the 2019 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study. (ISC)² also reports that the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145 percent to close the skills gap and better defend organizations worldwide. The answer to the skills gap? Education. Cisco Networking Academy is well-positioned to create the needed cybersecurity professionals to fill that gap – and to provide people with the basic knowledge they need to protect themselves and the organizations they work for.

                                        Certified cybersecurity professionals on average are paid $71K/year while those without certification earn $55K/year                                                         – ((ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, 2019)

Cisco Networking Academy is answering the call

For over 23 years, Cisco Networking Academy program has been partnering with leading educational institutions around the world to prepare more than 11 million students in 180 countries – from all backgrounds and experiences – for IT careers in our ever-changing digital economy. Last year, 2.1 million students from around the world participated in the program, with 42 percent of students from the Americas, 23 percent from Asia Pacific, Japan, and China (APJC), and 35 percent from Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia (EMEAR). Twenty eight percent of those students were female.

Networking Academy’s best-in-class curriculum offers a wide variety of learning portfolios, including basic courses to help the general public learn about everyday vulnerabilities that can affect their daily business and personal lives. For those who wish to explore cybersecurity, or for those who want to begin the steps towards a cybersecurity career, there are foundational and professional level courses that range from recognizing the challenges of the expanding digital economy, to evaluating security vulnerabilities, to ethics and laws. Completion of the “Intro to Cybersecurity” and “Cybersecurity Essentials” courses prepares students for one of three pathways: a CyberOps Associate certification, or higher-level courses in either IoT Security or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security.

The latest cybersecurity course offering is the CyberOps Associate course, which is aligned to the recently launched Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate certification This new course focuses on cybersecurity operations and provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to monitor, detect, analyze, and respond to cybersecurity threats. It also features enhancements to improve learning effectiveness, including gaming, videos, and more than 30 hours of hands-on labs, featuring virtual machines and Packet Tracer (virtual network simulator) activities.


Average cybersecurity/IT security annual salaries globally from the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report
Average cybersecurity/IT security annual salaries globally from the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report 

Expanding our impact through partnerships and career resources

The threat landscape may be rapidly evolving, but Cisco Networking Academy is fighting back. While constantly adapting its best-in-class curriculum to meet the rigorous demands of the industry, Networking Academy continues to fund

new collaborations to fulfill its mission of empowering all people with career possibilities. By working with government agencies, like ministries of education, and universities and community colleges, Networking Academy now has over 12,000 academies and 26,500 instructors around the world, offering its curriculum to millions of students – both new and those changing careers. It also offers an unparalleled learning experience, incorporating state-of-the-art learning tools, like Packet Tracer, a virtual networking simulator, and learn-a-thons. And students who complete a course earn digital badges that certify their skills: a growing requirement by employers. Additionally, students have a robust set of career resources available to them, including a job matching engine, alumni LinkedIn network, career advice, and more, through the Cisco Networking Academy Talent Bridge.’


Learn more about Cisco Networking Academy and explore its cybersecurity courses and pathways.

How are you educating the next generation for the future of cybersecurity? Join us next week in #EducationNow to discuss how algorithms are impacting the way we educate and learn.

Cisco Public Sector Thought Leadership


Swati Handa

Senior Product Servant Leader

Cisco Networking Academy