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Louisiana Cyber Education Program to Strengthen U.S. Cybersecurity Workforce Expands Nationwide

Digital classroom online education concept. School desks and laptop. 3d illustration.

A multi-part cybersecurity workforce development initiative backed by a grant from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and support from the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC), Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana and CISA director Jen Easterly, will be expanded nationwide, the participants said.

Cyber Education Extended Nationwide

The federal funding through CISA’s Cybersecurity Education and Training Assistance Program (CETAP) will enable Range, which began as a free, safe and virtual environment for K-12 students to learn cybersecurity skills initially funded by the state of Louisiana, to extend to all 50 states. The expanded program will remain no-cost. Range is a cloud-based environment capable of running virtual machines with access to the internet but closed off from any private networks. By launching these machines in a web browser, no additional hardware or software is necessary to practice cybersecurity concepts, according to the organization’s website. The project will continue to be piloted through the end of this year.

Filling 750,000 Open Cybersecurity Jobs

The goal is to provide students with the skills and training necessary to successfully enter the cybersecurity workforce. By some estimates, roughly 750,000 cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled owing to a lack of qualified candidates. The CYBER.ORG Range is accessible to all K-12 students but is primarily geared toward high school students interested in learning core cybersecurity concepts and curriculum.

Educators can use the Range to help students practice deploying and discovering cyberattacks in a safe and controlled, virtual environment. Students are able to get hands-on practice using real-world tools with common cyberattacks and learn how to defend against them.

All labs in the CYBER.ORG Cybersecurity course can be completed on the CYBER.ORG Range, officials said. The labs are designed to prepare students for the CompTIA Security+ Exam, which provides students with a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs. Security+ incorporates best practices in hands-on troubleshooting and ensuring candidates have practical security problem-solving skills.

CYBER.ORG Director Laurie Salvail explained championed the CYBER.ORG Range mission:

“The CYBER.ORG Range is designed to lower the existing barriers to entry into the cybersecurity field by helping ensure that all students are cyber literate and have core cybersecurity skills. Thanks to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Director Easterly’s leadership, students can now more easily build confidence in cybersecurity and feel prepared to enter careers in a high-demand field.”

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.