One of the largest threats facing IT organizations today is not necessarily from outside attackers, but rather the simple fact that there just aren't enough skilled security professionals.

To help change that situation IBM is expanding its cybersecurity education efforts in a bid to make security information training and skills more broadly available. IBM is adding nine new schools to its roster of academic institutions that it partners with to promote and provide cybersecurity resources.

The new schools include: University of South Carolina, University of Texas at Dallas, Fordham University, San Jose State University, Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany, Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore, Universidad Cenfotec in Costa Rica, Universiti Kebangsaan in Malaysia and Wroclaw University of Economics in Poland.


Marisa Viveros, vice president of Cyber Security Innovation at IBM, told eSecurity Planet that IBM has long recognized that a lack of cybersecurity skills in the workforce needs to be addressed.

IBM's efforts include providing best practices and curriculum components to schools, as well as access to IBM security software. In some cases, IBM's contribution helps build new degree programs for security. In general, Viveros said the effort is about giving guidance and passing along information that is important for security education.

Who Benefits from Cybersecurity Program

Viveros declined to put a dollar figure on what IBM's academic contributions might cost, although IBM does realize a net benefit. While students don't become security professionals overnight, IBM has been able to recruit students for internships and will possibly be able to hire them at a future point, she said. The cybereducation program benefits IBM's customers too. At least some of the students IBM is helping to train may be hired by IBM's customers, Viveros said.

Mark Harris, assistant professor, University of South Carolina, now uses IBM's tools and resources to help build out his cybersecurity curriculum. Harris told eSecurityPlanet that he uses the IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report as a teaching tool. Students are tested on security knowledge and trends that the IBM report identifies.

Harris said he's focused on educating his students about the intersection of technology and business. "We're looking to bridge the gap with business and IT skills, so our students can communicate and understand both sides."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.