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Springfield company to offer cybersecurity training

Awareness of the dangers of cybercrime is growing in industries like retail and health care, helping fuel demand for tens of thousands of new employees trained to help identify and fight threats to online security.

In part to help meet that rising demand, a Springfield defense firm will offer courses this spring to train cyber security professionals. Avetec, located at the NextEdge Technology park, will offer a 10-week course beginning May 5, said Tim Shaw, a retired FBI agent and vice president of strategic development at the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center in Beavercreek.

The two companies have a joint management agreement in which they will maintain separate locations but will share connections and experiences to secure more work. The new program will include 400 hours of lab and classroom work, and it will prepare graduates for entry-level positions in cyber security. Each course will provide space for 20 to 40 students and will be offered three times throughout the year, Shaw said.

“These students will live in a virtual environment for 10 weeks, learning the job,” Shaw said.

The cost of cybercrime for U.S. businesses can be significant, according to a 2013 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That report estimated those crimes can cost U.S. businesses between $20 billion and $140 billion annually.

Increasingly, businesses are realizing the importance of protecting sensitive information, said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass, a Boston-based firm that analyzes job postings and labor market data. Jobs in cyber security have seen a 74 percent increase in demand across the U.S., he said. There were also about 5,000 job postings in Ohio last year alone.

Demand for qualified candidates from government and defense contractors is growing, Sigelman said, but most of the new demand is coming from industries like finance, health care and retail.

Earlier this year, retail giant Target reported a massive data breach in which personal data from millions of customers was stolen.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there are about 75,000 information security analyst jobs available now, but that figure is expected to grow 37 percent over the next decade. The median pay in that industry is listed at $86,000 per year.

Avetec has been active in raising awareness of the effects of cybercrime on businesses. The company recently hosted a conference focusing on the ways hackers can breach a security system and what kinds of information they are typically looking for.

One of the goals of the training program, Shaw said, is also to encourage businesses and graduates to work more closely with law enforcement when cybercrime occurs. Businesses are often reluctant to admit that their security has been breached, Shaw said. But information from private companies can be crucial to help law enforcement learn more about how new attacks are occurring and determine ways to mitigate any damage.

“If private companies are not sharing the intelligence about how cyber attacks are being done, we’re never going to get ahead of the power curve,” Shaw said.

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