Closing the Gaps in Cybersecurity

November
,
2019

The cybersecurity industry suffers from an immense talent gap. As the need for tougher security measures in industrial facilities becomes dire, numerous organizations are creating training programs to build and strengthen cybersecurity education.

Just two to three decades ago, industrial cybersecurity was seen as a beneficial activity. Today, it is an absolute necessity. This massive shift has brought about many challenges. As cyberattacks have grown in sophistication and frequency, companies in the chemical process industries (CPI) have had trouble finding qualified applicants and recruiting skilled industrial cybersecurity experts.

A recent Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) survey of IT decision-makers in eight countries found that 82% of employers report a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals (1). In industrial cybersecurity, this number is thought to be even higher. The shortage may be attributed to the changing landscape of evolving cyber threats, which universities struggle to keep up with as they train the next generation of cybersecurity experts.

In the CPI, where stakes are high and any cyberattack could lead to a safety incident, how can industrial teams identify cyber weaknesses, prioritize them, and quickly deploy solutions without impacting process operability? The answer lies in education. Teams need to be well-versed in risk assessment and methods to build effective cybersecurity architectures.

The need for technical competence in cybersecurity is only part of the equation, however. Companies must build cybersecurity awareness by creating a culture of accountability. Every employee, from the operator to the plant manager, has a responsibility to consider cybersecurity as part of their job duties.

How can chemical engineers, especially process engineers who are responsible for day-to-day plant operations, become fluent in the language of cybersecurity? Many organizations are creating training programs and educational content targeted toward working professionals.

This article discusses some of the education and talent gaps associated with cybersecurity in the CPI. It examines how different organizations, both industrial and academic, are working to close those gaps...

Author Bios: 

Emily Petruzzelli

Emily Petruzzelli is the Managing Editor of Chemical Engineering Progress (120 Wall St., 23rd Fl., New York, NY 10005; Email: emifr@aiche.org, Phone: (646) 495-1347). She edits CEP feature articles, which cover topics ranging from distillation and heat exchange to process control and safety, and is responsible for preparing the Catalyzing Commercialization, Journal Highlight, and Safety Minute columns for publication each month. She received a BS in chemical engineering from Villanova Univ....Read more

Nidhi Sharma

Nidhi Sharma is the assistant news editor for CEP magazine, AIChE’s flagship publication in New York City. She writes mainly for the news section and covers up and coming research as well as prominent scientists — she also writes longform feature articles that cover environmental and social topics. She graduated with a B.S. in biology and journalism from the University of Richmond, and has experience in both science journalism and cultural/political journalism. When she's not writing, she enjoys nature and traveling.



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