The silver screen may prove to be the silver lining for the cybersecurity industry’s biggest problem: the cybersecurity workforce shortage.
The shortage is severe — it’s predicted to result in 3.5 million unfilled positions globally in 2021, up from 1 million in 2014.
While various technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), big data security analytics, blockchain and cognitive security, are expected to reduce the number of people assigned to cyber threat defense in some large enterprises — the cybercrime epidemic continues to generate the need for more security professionals.
Getting young people interested and involved in cybersecurity is mission critical if the world is going to catch up and fill such a huge number of jobs. There have been a few efforts to help with this.
Earlier this year, the Girl Scouts of USA and Palo Alto Networks announced a partnership that will provide cybersecurity badges for any of the 1.8 million K-12 girls participating in the new program.
Plus, IBM announced a new collaboration with the Hacker Highschool project, an open cybersecurity training program for teens and young adults.
The cybersecurity field offers job security, good pay, interesting work and a solid career path for young people with computer science-, forensics- and other technology-related education. But those points alone aren’t enough to get middle- and high-school students interested in becoming cyber fighters.
What’s a parent or teacher to do?
Enter Hollywood. For the past 45 years, more than a hundred movies with hacking- and computer security-related themes have hit the big screen.
Top hacker and cybercrime movies
Last month, Cybersecurity Ventures published its first-ever Official List of Hacker and Cyber Crime Movies. The flicks were researched and crowd-sourced with help from members of the cybersecurity community who follow the market researcher.
A sampling of movies over the decades:
The Italian Job (1969) — A robber (Michael Caine) recently released from prison gets help from a group of Britain’s most infamous computer hackers to steal gold bullion from underneath the noses of the Italian police and mafia. One of the film’s most famous scenes is a massive traffic jam caused by hacking the city’s traffic control computer.
The Conversation (1974) — Gene Hackman plays a surveillance expert using high-tech equipment (back in the day) to spy on a couple he fears may be in danger. The film was nominated for three Oscars.
War Games (1983) — A high-school student (Matthew Broderick) hacks into a military supercomputer in this classic film and activates the U.S. nuclear arsenal — at a time when most people didn’t know what hacking was.
Sneakers (1992) — A Hacker (Robert Redford) leads a team of experts who test the security of San Francisco companies. They discover a black box that can crack any encryption, posing a huge threat if it lands in the wrong hands — including rogue NSA agents.
Firewall (2006) — When his family is taken hostage, a security specialist (Harrison Ford) who designs theft-proof computer systems for financial institutions must break into his own system and steal millions of dollars to pay their ransom.
The Imitation Game (2014) — M16, the newly created British intelligence agency, recruits mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team to crack Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. The film was nominated for eight Oscars.
Cybersecurity Ventures promises a 2.0 version of the list that includes movies coming in 2018.
While there’s no sure-fire way to get kids thinking about cybersecurity, offering them a movie and some popcorn may be the best way.
Hey, if anyone’s got a better idea …
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