Investing in a Robust Cybersecurity Workforce

Aug 01, 2023
4 minutes

As the world’s cybersecurity leader, Palo Alto Networks prioritizes cybersecurity awareness and education so individuals of all ages and backgrounds have the tools to stay safe online. Palo Alto Networks commends the recently released National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy and welcomes the opportunity to work with the Office of the National Cyber Director to implement its vision. The strategy recognizes the dynamic nature of cybersecurity, the need for a flexible approach to meet workforce demands, and the importance of fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the talent pipeline.

Our Inclusive and Scalable Approach to Cybersecurity Awareness and Education

Palo Alto Networks is committed to fostering knowledge and skills development to propel Americans into the cyber workforce. Our collaborations with public and private partners enables us to deliver scalable, cutting-edge content and create new pathways for everyone, regardless of background or level of experience. Engaging, hands-on activities drive deeper learning and serve as an important tool for those individuals who learn differently. Below are examples of demonstrated support for building a diverse and robust cyber workforce by Palo Alto Networks:

  • Through the Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy, we provide free curricula, ranging from introductory to advanced cybersecurity courses, which are used by more than 900 universities, community colleges, high schools and middle schools in the U.S.. Paired with hands-on labs, this program benefits both educators and students alike.
  • Participants in the Palo Alto Networks Systems Engineering (SE) Academy are offered a six-month rotation in various business roles at Palo Alto Networks after completing our six-month Academy curriculum. This real-world experience improves the participants’ understanding of how cybersecurity intersects with nearly every aspect of modern business operations.
  • Our Cyber Scholars program provides access, mentorship and training for individuals pursuing cyber careers from traditionally underrepresented communities. This includes partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to identify and award scholarships to students in technology-related STEM and business fields at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). And, through additional partnerships, we have extended the program to include Latin American and Hispanic communities.
  • Our Cyber A.C.E.S. program teaches foundational cyber concepts, like responsible connectivity, privacy, online communication and digital citizenship through easily accessible, interactive and age-appropriate activities for ages 5-15. The free lesson guides can be delivered to and shared with local schools and communities.
  • To further improve K-12 learning outcomes in established and emerging STEM subjects (i.e. math, science, cybersecurity and AI), Palo Alto Networks proudly supports the work of Khan Academy, which has more than 150 million registered users and a mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.
  • In 2023, Palo Alto Networks developed and invested in a pilot program with CYBER.ORG and the Virginia Department of the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) to offer the first ever, hands-on cybersecurity labs for individuals who are blind and vision impaired.
  • Palo Alto Networks partnered with the state of North Dakota to design and deliver Cyber Madness, the first statewide high school competition in the nation, utilizing our online coursework and firewalls.
  • In South Dakota, Palo Alto Networks sponsored the first-ever fourth grade cohort of campers, joining middle school students at the GenCyber Girls in CybHER Security Camp 2023 at Dakota State University.

Artificial Intelligence Complements Cyber Workforce Development

Artificial intelligence (AI) can alleviate staffing pressures on security operations centers (SOC) that are spread too thin without compromising threat detection and response capabilities. AI has empowered Palo Alto Networks with real-time awareness of the threat landscape, allowing the company to block 8.6 billion attacks each day. Our AI-driven SOC automation engine, Cortex XSIAM, is driving extraordinary cybersecurity outcomes, enabling us to ingest 36 billion events every day on average and triage just eight of those events for human analyses. We must continue to future-proof the cyber workforce by equipping individuals with the skill sets to navigate the evolving landscape of AI in cybersecurity.

Palo Alto Networks believes cyber skills development can best be maximized by investing in skill sets that uniquely require human capital. This approach enables analysts to devote their attention to more sophisticated attacks while relying on automation to handle more routine tasks, enhancing the effectiveness of the cybersecurity workforce. Indeed, the cybersecurity jobs individuals are hired for today will not necessarily look the same in 5 or 10 years. There will be a greater demand for people to help defend networks as attack surfaces expand and the threat landscape changes. Someone who has AI-powered cybersecurity in their position will experience professional growth as the way they perform their jobs continues to evolve over time. AI deployment and cybersecurity workforce investment are complementary activities.

Visit our website to learn more about our Education Services, inclusion and diversity strategies, and broader corporate responsibility initiatives.

Subscribe to the Newsletter!

Sign up to receive must-read articles, Playbooks of the Week, new feature announcements, and more.