The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), in partnership with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), has awarded $2 million to the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), a DHS Center of Excellence (COE) led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), to develop a plan that CISA can execute to build a national network of cybersecurity technical institutes.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and DHS co-authored a report to the president titled “Supporting the Growth and Sustainment of the Nation’s Cybersecurity Workforce.” The report describes both cybersecurity workforce needs and projected shortages.

  • The majority of U.S. critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies, making its cybersecurity workforce vital.
  • The federal government depends heavily on its cybersecurity workforce, supplemented by contractors.
  • There are an estimated 299,000 active openings for cybersecurity-related jobs in the United States as of August 2017. Globally, projections suggest a cybersecurity workforce shortage of 1.8 million by 2022.

“CISA sees the growing cybersecurity workforce shortage in the United States as a national security risk,” said Bryan Ware, CISA assistant director of cybersecurity. “With our government and private sector partners, CISA is striving to ‘secure tomorrow’ by preparing, growing and sustaining the nation’s cybersecurity workforce. This award to create a national network of institutes to educate and train dynamic and diverse cybersecurity professionals is part of the administration and CISA’s initiatives and efforts to begin a trend of reducing this workforce gap.”

CIRI will work with Auburn University, Purdue University and the University of Tulsa to conduct research and develop a consolidated plan that uses an academic hub-and-spoke model to create a national network of cybersecurity institutes to educate and train cybersecurity professionals.  

CIRI, a consortium of universities and public- and private-sector partners led by UIUC, was established by DHS in 2015 to focus on creating networks in academia for research and education that enhance the resiliency of the nation’s critical infrastructures and the businesses and public entities that own and operate those assets and systems. CIRI is one of ten COEs managed by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. The COE network is a consortium of hundreds of universities addressing homeland security challenges.

 “This is exactly the type of national need that the DHS Centers of Excellence network was established to help our nation address,” said Gia Harrigan, DHS S&T federal program manager for CIRI. “Building capacity to address critical workforce and education gaps across academia and the broader Homeland Security Enterprise is one of the things they do best.”