Are You Teaching a Course on Cybersecurity?

With more and more American colleges offering courses about cybercrime and letting students major in the subject, you would think that American businesses will soon be able to protect their systems and data with ironclad reliability.

But that might not happen so soon, because most cybersecurity training is overlooking at least one important reality . . .

Not all security breaches come from outside organizations

These recent case studies illustrate the point . . .

  • A bright, eager-to-please summer intern at a software company took a call from a client and started to gush about a new product that his company was developing. Nobody told him not to talk about it with company outsiders, but he did. And once he let the company secret be known, it entered the rumor mill and there was no undoing the harm.
  • A company executive who was planning to quit her job copied her company’s client list onto a flash drive, took it home, and copied it onto her personal computer so she could contact those clients when she took her next job. When she quit, she signed an agreement not to contact any former clients for a period of 18 months. But once those 18 months were over, she was off and running.

Key Cybersecurity Concepts to Teach

Before you start to teach the technical skills to protect company data from outside hacking, consider adding these topics to your course plan . . .

The basics of business ethics. Students should understand that when they graduate and start working, they have an ethical obligation to respect and protect company information.

A review of how company employees’ computer use will be monitored by many employers. Students might not realize that companies can review everything they do using their company computers. If they copy company files onto a flash drive, for example, an alert internal cybersecurity department will be able to see that and take action.

An overview of fraud and white-collar crime statistics. According to “Reviewing a Year of Serious Data Breaches, Major Attacks and New Vulnerabilities,” a study published by IBM in 2015, “Your next attacker is likely to be someone you thought you could trust. Insider threats continue to pose the most significant threat to organizations everywhere.” Students might not be aware that even low-level misuse of company data could result in prosecution. Another statistic? According to, an organization that gathers and monitors statistics about criminal cases that are being prosecuted in the courts, fraud crimes currently make up 10.5% of all federal criminal cases. In 2014, for example, there were 7420 fraud cases in the courts, many of them centering on internal fraud and malfeasance.

Keeping Current on Cybercrime Trends and Facts

If you would like to keep abreast of the latest thinking about what cybersecurity is and how to work in the field, you will want to take some time to read our latest research. There are some real surprises. Did you know, for example, that it is much more likely that parents and children will have conversations about in-person experiences (78% of people say such talks are likely to take place) than to have conversations about experiences they have had online (52%)? So the message is that if parents want to know what their kids have been doing online and keep them safe, they can’t assume their kids are sharing what they have really been up to. To know, a parent needs to ask.

Attention Students

Ready to explore college majors and different career options? Participate in the National Career Pathway Study and you will be empowered with new information to make career and educational decisions that ultimately align with your interests, passions, and aptitudes.

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