Beth Johnson

Cyber attacks are becoming the norm in our daily lives. In fact, just last week, a top security company warned that a new cyber strike is infecting approximately 13,000 cell phones each day. To date, this well-orchestrated hack has taken control of over 1 million Google accounts in just 4 months.

You might be asking yourself why a successful company like Google can’t simply take a stand for its customers and fend these attacks off itself. But the problem isn’t money — the issues lies on the supply side. Despite the high salaries offered by companies like Google, there is a considerable shortage of students coming out of college with degrees in computer science.

James Gosler, one of our nation’s top cyber security experts, believes that we only have approximately 1,000 people with the necessary skills to defend the country against the most complex cyber attacks out of the estimated 20,000-30,000 required. This is troubling, especially given that the demand for information security professionals is expected to grow by 53 percent in less than 2 years’ time.

This will undoubtedly lead to costly national security problems in the years to come — that is, unless we do something about it by acting now.

To be frank, our public schools are still operating under antiquated, early 20th-century standards. Students are spending a lot of time learning about art and 18th century literature, but very little about the new technological world around them.

According to a recent study, only 29 states give students the option of counting a computer science courses toward high school graduation. Worst is that most of those 29 states only offer one introductory course that does not even scratch the surface of what the average American should be equipped with after their high school years.

This not only jeopardizes our national security, it also poses a long term bane on our children’s earning potential. Of all the 319 college majors, the STEM fields — computer engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, systems engineering, and mathematics — fill the list of highest salaries.

Fingers crossed that Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s newly-nominated Department of Education head, will acknowledge the problem at hand and make fixing it a top priority. We simply can’t afford to continue allowing our students to enter the real world without having any basic understanding about how to defend themselves online. The solution isn’t necessarily increasing education funding — it’s making better use of what we already have on the books. Here’s to hoping that DeVos and the rest of the Trump Administration enacts common sense reforms that will safeguard our security for generations to come.