Cybercrime is among the fastest growing threats to the public.
The White House proposed spending $14 billion on cybersecurity, and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida hopes to position itself as a national leader in the fight against cybercrime.
Lawmakers and USF officials opened the center on Friday with an official ribbon cutting ceremony. The Florida Center for Cybersecurity is part of a statewide effort to train people for jobs in cybersecurity, an industry with a huge demand for qualified people.
Sri Sridharan, who heads the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF, said the center is the first of its kind in the state, offering a master’s degree and certificate programs in cybersecurity.
"Technology is probably only about 30 percent," said Sridharan. "The other 70 percent has to do with cyber intelligence, digital forensics, policy, information assurance, compliance and so on and so forth."
In the center, there are huge monitors with Norse tracking data, the world’s largest database of live cyber threats. On them, you see a globe with lines representing attempted attacks to steal information.
The US is the number one target.
"This is happening on a routine basis and there’s national security threatened," Sridharan said. "The national economy can be threatened, and of course, private citizens' information is stolen and used for the wrong purposes."
Just this week, Anthem Health Insurance was attacked.
That breach affected an estimated 80 million people, with all their personal information in the hands of hackers. Sridharan says breaches like that are just the beginning of the problems, and the cybersecurity industry needs more people.
"There was a study that said there are 207,000 open positions in cybersecurity," he said. "And there were not more than a few thousands that were qualified to apply for those jobs."
He says the only fighting chance we have against these attacks are centers like the one at USF.
"Academic institutions like ours we need to get into the game and make sure we graduate students with skill sets in various aspects of cyber security," Sridharan said.
In a couple of months, the University of Tampa will open a brand new cybersecurity center.
It will offer cybersecurity as a major or minor, as well as certificate programs. That program starts in the fall of this year.