Cybersecurity Training Lab for tomorrow’s security experts
Professionally trained IT security specialists are a rare commodity in Germany. So as not to fall behind in the arms race with cyber criminals, IT teams and managers must constantly hone their skills and improve their expertise in order to stay at least one step ahead. Several Fraunhofer Institutes and universities of applied sciences are now offering a modular, part-time continuing education program to alleviate the unmet demand for training opportunities.
Training and development in the field of IT security is an issue of national interest, given that cyber attacks on critical infrastructures or industrial complexes can result in significant financial losses, the disruption of vital supply networks, or the breakdown of public order. The growing trend toward connectivity and digitalization only accentuates the threat.
There is a huge demand for training in this domain. Already in 2014, 61 percent of the companies that responded to a survey by the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) cited expertise in IT security as one of their priorities when recruiting qualified staff. And yet in 2015 only five of the 64 major universities with computer science departments offered degree courses in IT and cybersecurity. Moreover, according to a study published by Frost & Sullivan, the shortage of trained specialists in the security industry will reach 1.5 million worldwide by 2020.
Collaboration with universities of applied sciences
In response to this problem, Fraunhofer and a select group of universities have developed a modular concept for cybersecurity training. The Cybersecurity Training Lab created for this purpose will receive six million euros per year in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) during its first years of operation.
This collaborative approach enables the latest theoretical or practical research findings to be immediately incorporated into the teaching program. Course participants get to work in modern laboratories equipped with simulation tools allowing real threat scenarios to be tested. They can specialize in the following thematic areas:
Industrial manufacturing / Industry 4.0
Critical infrastructures / Use cases for energy and water infrastructures
High-security and emergency-response facilities
Internet security and IT forensics
Software quality / Product certification
Embedded systems, mobile security and the internet of things
The teaching components are condensed into a compact format requiring only part-time attendance, and the modules can be combined in different ways to match the IT security requirements of various professional functions. The Fraunhofer Academy intends to develop new modules based on demand and provides end-to-end quality management.
Industry supports this initiative, as confirmed by Thomas Tschersich, Senior Vice President Group Security Service at Deutsche Telekom AG: “We particularly appreciate the modular format that concentrates teaching content in short training units, enabling the transfer of knowledge in specific subject areas. This is ideal for part-time study and for specific training in the use of modern tools.”