PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - Security hacks are going up, but the number of people trained to fight them, is at an all time low. Right now, there are one million cyber security job openings and that number is expected to double to 2 million unfilled jobs by 2020.
St. Petersburg College and the Pinellas County School district are teaming up to get more high school students interested in the growing career field.
Wednesday, 100 high schoolers from across the district spent several hours at SPC using virtual reality, learning about computer hacking and finding out the need for cyber security experts.
From painting in virtual reality, to hacking into a computer. St. Pete College Cyber Security Professor Therezita Ortiz will do whatever it takes to get kids interested.
The high schoolers are the perfect target.
“They’ve been born into technology. It’s is second nature for them.”
Ortiz’ classroom on SPC's Clearwater campus is filled with students that will soon be charged with one of the most important jobs in our nation: Keeping our top secret information safe.
“Cyber security is not a can, it is a must,” Ortiz explained.
Every day she’s reminded how crucial these future students are with digital attacks on Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, even hospitals. More than 2 billion records stolen are from people just like us, every year.
“Every industry is being attacked,” Ortiz added.
As attacks go up, companies are getting more desperate and having a harder time finding qualified applicants to hire to keep their information safe.
Luckily, there are students like Chris Sampson, a junior at Countryside High School, who is considering a career in cyber security.
“I learned today that 13 trillion dollars is stolen by hackers. It’s mindblowing. When you open your eyes to see how big of a problem it is it motivates you to want to get a job in that field.”
Sampson says his goal is plain and simple: To help people.
“If you really want to get something done in your life, and feel like you really did something, then it's the perfect field for you.”
What better way to make an impact than keeping every one of us, and our billions of records, safe.