Education is continually evolving.  It used to be thought of as the 3 Rs: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.  It moved forward to STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And, we’ve even expanded this to STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math. While all of these are great components to a well-rounded education, they often leave out a foundational element: cybersecurity.

Yes, cybersecurity is “technically” included within technology, but it goes far beyond this. As classrooms move to greater and greater incorporation of technology into every subject, there’s a need to have dedicated cybersecurity education to include online privacy, information security, IoT benefits and risks, coding, and technology ethics.

Dedicated cybersecurity education is necessary considering the increasing number of online accounts that students have – both inside and outside of the classroom. Understanding how devices, apps, and websites collect, store, and use data is necessary in order to understand how a person can hope to achieve online privacy and digital identity security. Students are posting and sending massive amounts of data via these platforms and they need to learn how to assess the benefits and risks associated with doing this.

Dedicated cybersecurity education focusing on the technology behind cybersecurity (i.e., coding, hardware, threats, and concepts) is also important. Even if a person doesn’t pursue a career in cybersecurity, their lives will forever be impacted by it. Having even a general understanding of cybersecurity technology will be important for the continued use of technology within our lives. This will provide students with a greater understanding of the cyber world in which we live and allow them to make well-informed decisions in this world.

We must also include technology ethics within the education of students. With the increasing power that technology allows us to gain comes the increased risk of exploitations, both within the technology and the people who use it. Being able to talk about the good and bad of technology will help us become better cyber citizens and allow us to better develop clear uses, policies, and laws surrounding the different technologies.

However, the greatest benefit to rethinking cybersecurity education and its importance in our schools is the increased exposure that students will have to this awesome career field. With an expected 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021, we need more people to recognize the possibilities and opportunities available in cybersecurity. We need to be sure that more students from every area, background, and perspective are represented in cybersecurity so that we can develop technology that is beneficial for all. Cybersecurity education has the possibility to lift students up and make positive impacts all around the globe. The possibilities are truly endless.