Microsoft is expanding its efforts to bring more women into the cybersecurity field with its Cybersecurity Skills Initiative.
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing segments of the IT industry, but supply is struggling to meet demand.
“The past few years have seen cybercriminals target the media, businesses, and governments, and the volume is staggering,” writes Kate Behncken – Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies. “As we cited in our Digital Defense Report last year, the volume of password attacks has risen to an estimated 921 attacks every second – a 74% increase in just one year. Cyberattacks often have devastating impacts – the average cost of a cyber breach has reached $4.35 million.
“At the same time, we are facing a global cybersecurity skills crisis. Demand for cybersecurity skills has grown by an average of 35% over the past year. And in some countries, like Brazil, demand has grown as much as 76%. We simply don’t have enough people with the skills to defend against cybersecurity attacks, putting people, businesses, and governments around the world at risk.”
To help meet the ever-growing need, the company is expanding its program to additional countries, with a focus on training underrepresented groups. Like much of the tech industry, cybersecurity traditionally has a much smaller percentage of women than other fields.
“In addition to expanding the skilling program to more countries, we are also focusing on helping historically underrepresented populations enter the cybersecurity workforce,” continues Behncken. “Specifically, the opportunity for women to work in cybersecurity is huge. Today, women make up only 25% of the global cybersecurity workforce so it’s more important than ever to encourage and empower women to pursue these careers.”
Behncken goes on to highlight several specific initiatives:
- WOMCY, a nonprofit focused on cybersecurity opportunities for women in Latin America
- Women4Cyber, a foundation aimed at increasing women’s role in cybersecurity in Europe
- The International Telecommunications Union – a UN agency – supporting their [Women in Cyber Mentorship Program](Women in Cyber Mentorship Program) with a special focus on Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
- WiCyS, a global community of women, allies, and advocates dedicated to recruiting, training, and advancing women in cybersecurity
- The company is also working with organizations in Poland, such as the Kosciuszko Institute, to help train women — including Ukrainian refugees — in cybersecurity.