The Next Generation of Cyber Security Pros: Is Gen Z the Key to Solving The World’s Hacking Problems?

By Jascha Bryce

Almost everyone puts a premium on cybersecurity these days. From average Joes to small and medium enterprises, to multinational companies, people have made a concerted effort to protect their online identity.

In essence, Generation X paved the way for the evolutionary process of Internet security. This demographic established – what was then – effective technologies that hinder cybercriminals from invading other people’s privacy.

Of course, Father Time will always have a way of catching up to this aforementioned evolutionary process, led by a new generation of hackers who constantly find new and creative methods of disrupting online security. For this reason alone, many deem the next generation of cybersecurity enforcers to be the next big thing in the industry.

Picking Up Where Gen X Left Off

Leading the way of this charge is Generation Z. Taking over the reins from their Gen X parents, Gen Zs (or the so-called millennials) fill in certain gaps in skills, which stem from the rather obvious lack of eagerness to update existing systems, as well as the ever-increasing rates of cybercrimes.

As pointed out by senior security researcher Stephen Cobb, there is a significant number of retiring cybersecurity professionals, which unfavorably tips the balance in the industry. Thankfully, though, there are also a lot of millennials today who came of age in a connected digital world and saw the importance of protecting and building tomorrow’s technology.

Education is Leading the Way

The concept of education has vastly improved over the years, catching up with and adapting to the latest trends in technology. So much so that it has even welcomed partnerships with some of the industry’s most recognized leaders. Bioengineering students of Clemson University teamed up with VentureWell to improve the quality of life of clinicians and patients around the world. The partnership with the non-profit organization aimed to initiate tech innovations in the field of medicine, as well as provide students with valuable experience that employers seek in future employees.

On the other hand, considering that Gen Zs basically grew up knowing about the dangers of the Internet, it’s no surprise that a lot of them are more than willing to take up subjects that many believe are absolute game-changers in the future. Maryville University, an educational institution that has received distinction from Apple for its tech-forward innovations, has partnered with multinational aerospace firm Boeing to develop courses for jobs various industries might need in the future. These joint efforts between schools and industries not only bring about groundbreaking research but they also effectively utilize the strengths of each other.

One distinguished Ivy League school even joined in on the fray. Harvard University now offers eight-week courses that include topics such as identifying threats and business risks. Its convenience is also worth noting, as students are only required to put in around eight to 11 hours of study time at their own pace.

Due to the rapidly evolving tech industry, specifically cybersecurity, universities have been updating their courses. In more ways, this not only solves the problem of the generational skills gap but also addresses the demands of various businesses for reliable experts in their respective fields.

Protecting Business from Cyber Attacks

With the increasing use of digital technologies, the call for cybersecurity has been louder than ever, which further cements its importance in businesses. So as companies, whether big or small, understand the negative consequences brought to the table by hackers, the need for knowledgeable cybersecurity experts increases in the job market.

A research report by ISACA found that 69 percent of companies have understaffed cybersecurity teams and only 58 percent have available cybersecurity positions, exposing their respective businesses to online attacks and identity breaches. Furthermore, they’re struggling to retain cybersecurity professionals, even with ample training and certification. On the flip side, however, this opens a ton of doors for well-equipped millennials to become key persons in the industry.

Ultimately, Generation Z is at the forefront of the ongoing war against hackers. With their natural curiosity, their practical knowledge, and their unrelenting fervor, they’re more than likely holding the key to solving the world’s hacking problems.