Although many people keep making headlines by hacking their way into various databases, other more responsible forces continue working behind the scenes to protect America’s social, economic and political Internet interests. Perhaps the most impressive efforts are those being put forth by the National Institute for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) – an entity that’s “evolved from the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, and extends its scope beyond the federal workplace to include civilians and students in kindergarten through post-graduate school.”

Here’s additional information about how all Americans can become active participants in the future of cybersecurity.

The Four Key Components of the NICE Initiative

  1. Component One. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are both in charge of what’s called The National Cybersecurity Awareness Component. It’s been assigned the task of greatly increasing “national cybersecurity awareness.” Average Americans will soon start hearing numerous public service campaigns aimed at (1) providing responsible Internet usage guidelines and (2) making “cybersecurity a popular educational and career pursuit for older students;”
  2. Component TwoThe Formal Cybersecurity Education Component. This is being managed by both the Department of Education (DoEd) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). These two highly accomplished entities are now encouraging school systems across the nation to create “formal cybersecurity education programs encompassing kindergarten through 12th grade.” Equal, if not greater efforts will also be designed to encourage higher education and vocational programs to “focus on the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for the private sector and government;”
  3. Component ThreeThe Cybersecurity Workforce Structure. This part of the overall initiative, supported by the U. S. Office of Personnel Management, will focus on developing the talents and skills of cybersecurity professionals. Efforts will be made to properly evaluate the skills and “professionalization of the workforce, to recommend best practices for forecasting future cybersecurity needs, and to define national strategies for recruitment and retention;”
  4. Component Four:  This program will be focused on Cybersecurity Workforce Training and Professional Development. This part of the overall initiative is being led by three different agencies: The Department of Defense (DoD), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This group will be working to “intensify training and professional development programs for [the] existing federal cybersecurity workforce.”

Given the uniquely critical goals of Component Four, it’s been divided into four areas:

Functional Area 1:  General IT Use (led by both the DHS and the CIO Council);

Functional Area 2:  IT Infrastructure, Operations, Maintenance and Information Assurance (led by both the DoD and the DHS);

Functional Area 3:   Domestic Law Enforcement and Counterintelligence (managed by the NCIX, DOD/DC3, DOJ and the DHS/USSS);

Functional Area 4:  Specialized Cybersecurity Operations (run by the NSA).

Additional Comments About NICE and Its Components
As each Component gains added expertise and insights into its goals, every American should start enjoying a safer Internet experience – while also being encouraged to alert various government agencies about any special concerns they develop while interacting with others on either a personal or professional basis in cyberspace.

Perhaps one of the most significant goals in all of the NICE initiatives is Component Two’s emphasis on increasing both interest and proficiency in computer science and cybersecurity educational programs. As NSF program manager Jan Cuny has said, “Information technology or computing drives our economy, ensures global competitiveness, accelerates the pace of discovery and is crucial to achiev[ing] national and societal priorities.”

Increased involvement in cybersecurity will not only prove highly stimulating to students of all ages – it should also offer steady job opportunities in the future. Efforts will be made to extend these opportunities to all parts of America.

Component Four’s stated goals indicate that this government program will be coordinating its efforts with “academia, industry, and State, Local, and Tribal governments” to identify their unique needs — while opening up professional development for all who are willing to gain expertise in various technical cyberspace skills areas.