BLOOMINGTON - The Bureau of Labor expects the demand for cybersecurity professionals in that field to increase by two-thirds in the next ten years. To help fill the growing need, Indiana University started its Cybersecurity Clinic. The clinic provides pro bono cybersecurity assistance to critical public infrastructure and community organizations including non-profits, schools, hospitals, local government agencies, and small businesses. The Bloomington Fire Department is one of the Cybersecurity Clinic's clients. Department leaders say they're being proactive about cybersecurity.
"All the data that comes in regarding the location and the notes of what we’re going to respond to is in that system,” said Max Litwin the Deputy Chief of the Bloomington Fire Department. “So if it were to go down you would immediately have to rely solely on radio traffic it would slow the response it would make it more inefficient."
The Cybersecurity Clinic was established in 2019. IU was one of the first colleges in the country to establish this kind of training program. Chris Page is one of the students taking part in the program. He said he grew up gaming and working on computers, but that cybersecurity gives him a purpose.
"On the news there is always more and more cybersecurity attacks that you see,” Page said. “I feel like it was a job that had a little bit of purpose behind it where you actually feel like you are protecting assets."
The jobs that Page hopes to fill once he graduates are in high demand. According toCyberseek.org, a website that tracks the number of openings in cybersecurity across the country, Indiana currently has 6,312 available positions.
"Nothing that you can do nowadays can be done without a computer, in essence,” said Isak Nti Asare, the Executive Director of the IU Cybersecurity Clinic. “Understanding then how we secure the users of those devices is becoming paramount. So as a consequence every company is now needing cybersecurity experts."
Because of that high demand private companies are investing in educating more cybersecurity professionals. IU was able to expand the Cybersecurity Clinic thanks to a $500,000 award from Google’s Cybersecurity Clinics fund. The expansion will allow the clinic to train 40 more undergraduate students, with a goal to eventually train 100 students a year. The funding will also allow the to clinic to service more organizations.
"You're helping critical infrastructure providers,” Scott Shackelford, the IU Cybersecurity Clinic Founder, said. “You're helping first responders, you're helping local governments and schools keep the lights on and put the fires out when they happen and really make a difference in communities across Indiana and the country. "
For students, the hands-on experience is something they say is critical to their future.
"Seeing their needs and having to adjust what I am doing on a day-to-day basis based on our conversations I think just helps me become a better cybersecurity professional all around," Page said.
Organizers hope to have one college offering this kind of clinic in every single state.