An important grant focuses on critical area

When people think of security, the image of police and armed guards may come to mind. But a relatively new form of security professionals is emerging in this technology age, and that’s cybersecurity.

To that end, training is happening in our backyard at Pennsylvania College of Technology. A $438,391 grant from the National Science Foundation recently was extended for another year and will provide scholarships for high school students to take the course, “Cybersecurity for Non-IT Majors.”

Careers in cyber defense are plentiful, according to Bradley M. Webb, assistant dean of the college’s Industrial, Computing and Engineering Technologies program.

“We need to infuse the field with high-quality graduates dedicated to securing the data systems we rely on daily,” he told the Sun-Gazette.

Today’s world is loaded with these systems. It seems as though just about every facet of life is tied into such systems. And all too often, we hear about yet another system being breached, putting sensitive information at risk.

Earlier this year, for instance, an Amazon software engineer was accused of hacking into Capital One and gaining access to personal information from more than 100 million Capital One credit applications. That included about 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers.

That information could be yours.

And that is just one incident. Multiply it by the number of other incidents, both nationally and internationally, in recent years and the need to beef up cybersecurity on many fronts becomes all the more critical — to business, to our energy infrastructure, to our government and to our national security.

Having qualified programs such as the one at Penn College preparing students to take on the challenge this new threat poses is of paramount importance to our collective future.