Cybersecurity Bootcamp to Help Fill Vacant Security Personnel Positions

Alarming IoT security gaps warrant workforce equipped to fight cybercrime.

The proliferation of consumer and industry IoT devices over the past decade has set the stage for a torrent of cyber attacks in recent years. These crimes have run the gamut of severity, with some causing mild disruptions in daily routines, to others that risked lives, to a few that have threatened society on a mass scale. The threat has come into much clearer focus recently in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged hospital systems. In March the FDA warned about SweynTooth, a cybersecurity vulnerability in hospital medical equipment that poses grave harm to patients who are already in critical condition.

A portion of the vulnerability problem can be traced to the dearth of skilled cybersecurity professionals. According to Cyber Seek, in California alone, there are 72,123 cybersecurity positions that are vacant due to this skill gap, with another 49,669 in Virginia, 43,170 in Texas, 24,952 in New York and thousands more in other states.

The Cal Poly Extended Education Cyber Bootcamp powered by Fullstack Academy is attempting to reverse this trend with a fully online, part-time bootcamp scheduled to start in July. The program proposes a pathway for those with little to no experience to become well-paid cybersecurity professionals by the program’s end next January. The bootcamp covers topics like Linux, Python, vulnerability discovery, and both offensive and defensive strategies to address cybercrime.

“Given the dramatic recent change in the economy, both nationally and in California and the West, it’s imperative that new, online options become available when the need is greatest for job-seekers and businesses,” said Nimit Maru, Fullstack Academy co-founder and co-CEO. “Cal Poly has been a great partner for us, and we believe this program will follow the success of our inaugural coding bootcamp with the university offering innovative solutions at such a critical time.”

The program takes after Cal Poly’s original coding bootcamp, which launched in 2019 and was claimed to land graduates jobs at companies such as LinkedIn, GoDaddy, Shopify, Pinterest and Nordstrom. For the same tuition of $11, 910, students are promised an opportunity to break into the cybersecurity field with an average salary of $106,000 for an analyst position in the San Francisco Bay Area and an average entry-level salary of $67,000 in California.

Beyond the labor shortage, another share of the cybersecurity vulnerability issue stems from the steep rise in the adoption of IoT and comparatively slow adoption of standards in design and manufacturing to make “smart” products such as TVs, wearable fitness trackers, surveillance devices, thermostats and appliances more impervious to hackers. Even more concerning, the escalation in the digital connectivity in vehicles amplifies the cybersecurity risk stakes for the general public. 

The concerns aren’t new. Experts have been warning for years about the increasing risk of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, hospitals and supply chains, and several such breaches have already been carried out resulting in billions in damages and, in some cases, lives.