A student codes app programs during computer class Feb. 13, 2019, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Staff Sgt. Krystal Wright/Air Force)

(ISC)2 this week announced its “One Million Certified in Cybersecurity” program, which pledges to put one million people through its entry-level certification exam and education program for free.

The program builds upon the success of the (ISC)2  “100K in the UK” initiative, which offered 100,000 free exams and course enrollments for UK residents earlier this year.

This latest program was announced this week at the Cyber Workforce and Education Summit at the White House. The Biden administration brought together experts, private sector companies, and federal agencies to brainstorm around one of the most pressing challenges in cybersecurity: the lack of good people to fill the more than 714,000 open cybersecurity jobs.

Recent initiatives, including commitments to providing more training for cybersecurity jobs, are great, said Joseph Carson, chief security scientist and advisory CISO at Delinea. Carson said the industry must prioritize what it can do now and what it must do in the near future. 

“We need to accelerate the need for skilled workers in cybersecurity and fast-track them into the industry as the skills shortage only grows,” Carson said. “Cybersecurity is no longer simply an issue to be dealt with within our industry. It’s one that can influence all of society. That means everyone needs cybersecurity skills training to reduce the continued risks of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is no longer just a career path, it’s an essential skill in today’s digital society."

John Bambeneek, principal threat hunter at Netenrich, said the typical path for new cybersecurity specialists is obtain a bachelor's in computer science, get a master's in cybersecurity, and then earn professional certifications.

“This is simply too onerous considering it isn’t even providing the expertise we need,” Bambenek said. “Moving forward, we need a strong push to get entry-level cybersecurity education at the associate's level and for employers to accept that as sufficient.”