Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Google Cybersecurity Clinics Fund to expand its cybersecurity clinic and provide training for future cybersecurity professionals. The funding, which was provided by Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the tech giant, is part of a $20 million collaboration between Google and the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics, announced by Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, in June of this year.
Modeled after free clinics at law schools and medical schools, RIT’s cybersecurity clinic aims to deploy teams of students to offer free cyber assessment services and resources to community groups, including nonprofits, small businesses, municipal organizations, and school districts. The goal is to provide students with real-life experience while also addressing the critical need for cybersecurity professionals.
“The expansion of our cybersecurity clinic through this partnership will give students real-life experiences and an opportunity to sharpen their skills while also helping their community,” said Ersin Uzun, the Katherine Johnson Endowed Executive Director of RIT’s ESL Global Cybersecurity Institute. Uzun also expressed hopes that the partnership would foster long-lasting relationships between students and the community, enabling students to become aware of local opportunities and connecting the community with the necessary talent to combat the ever-increasing cyber threats.
Cyber attacks have seen a significant increase globally, rising by 38 percent in 2022 alone. These attacks have cost the US economy billions of dollars over the past five years. Despite the growing need for cybersecurity professionals, there are currently over 650,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States, with over 27,000 open positions in New York State alone.
Recognizing the urgency of building a skilled cybersecurity workforce, U.S. Representative Joseph Morelle stated, “As cyber threats increase, I share the concerns of businesses and community leaders about building a skilled cybersecurity workforce to protect New Yorkers’ critical services, such as hospitals, schools, and financial institutions.” He added, “That’s why I’m thrilled to stand with Rochester Institute of Technology, Google, and the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics to announce this new investment in RIT’s students, their futures and careers, and the security of our state.”
Royal Hansen, Google’s Vice President of Privacy, Safety, and Security Engineering, emphasized the significance of the clinics in equipping the next generation of professionals with the tools and resources necessary to succeed in the field of cybersecurity. “We’re proud to lend a hand to help grow a strong security workforce responsible for strengthening and protecting our infrastructure for years to come,” added Hansen.
Apart from the grant funding, Google is also offering RIT volunteer mentorship from its employees, Google Titan Security Keys, and scholarships for the new Google Career Certificate in Cybersecurity. These additional resources and support aim to provide students with valuable guidance, equipment, and educational opportunities to enhance their cybersecurity skills and knowledge.
Overall, the partnership between RIT, Google, and the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics represents a significant step forward in addressing the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals, ensuring the protection of critical infrastructure, and fostering the growth of a skilled cybersecurity workforce. Through hands-on experiences and community engagement, RIT students will be equipped to contribute to the cybersecurity landscape, safeguarding vital services and bolstering the security of individuals, organizations, and the state as a whole.