Another scandal concerning leaked data has captured the attention of the nation. Through a Facebook quiz, Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm hired by the Trump campaign, was able to amass data from 50 million users. Though Facebook changed its policy to prevent similar corrupt practices, the damage had already been done and now Zuckerberg is under fire for Facebook’s involvement and lack of transparency.
While data breaches are a common occurrence, we don’t often have a large-scale breach like this one. When it does occur, it understandably causes panic. Leaks involving compromised data from corporations such as Yahoo, eBay, FriendFinder, Equifax, and Facebook cause substantial losses for those companies. But those that really suffer are the users who must deal with the repercussions of having their personal data used for malicious means. These crises illustrate the need for cybersecurity professionals.
Results from a joint report from WGU and LinkedIn showed that job listings for cybersecurity positions have grown by more than 50 percent year over year from 2014 to 2017. These listings aren’t just appearing in large corporations, small to midsize businesses are recognizing the need as well. New technology allows cyberattacks to target thousands of small companies — which generally have weaker protection measures — simultaneously, making them more attractive to hackers. This means all organizations need to think responsibly about their data protection. Clearly the need is urgent, causing a huge demand.
But the high demand for these jobs isn’t the only reason we need good cybersecurity professionals. They are the frontline in the defense of consumers. Most people have some sort of online presence and have become comfortable sharing their personal information, their finances, and their connections to companies and individuals on a variety of platforms. Consumers share this information under the assumption companies will protect it. The tools they use to share this information are omnipresent. To have their security compromised can be devastating. Even more devastating is the knowledge that some of these leaks were predicted, kept hidden, or complied with for financial or political gain.
What we need are cybersecurity workers with the skills to prevent attacks and the ethics to reveal corrupt practices that harm consumers.