This month Palo Alto Networks proudly joined the European Commission’s Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition. This coalition brings together European Union (EU) member states, companies, social partners, non-profit organisations and education providers, all of whom are taking action to boost digital skills in Europe. Members of the coalition have endorsed its objectives and principles: to build strong partnerships and work together to reduce digital skills gaps in Europe, including training young people, supporting “upskilling” and retraining of the workforce in technical areas, and modernizing education. Members also can pledge to carry out initiatives to tackle the digital skills gap, an area in which Palo Alto Networks has already been active.
Within the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, we will address two important aspects of cybersecurity: providing students with training in technical skills and raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity at the organizational board and C-suite levels. Both activities are essential for improving cybersecurity, preventing successful cyberattacks and maintaining trust in the digital age. With today’s threats growing in volume and sophistication, it is more critical than ever to arm colleges and universities with the latest cybersecurity curriculum to ensure our future generations have the necessary skills to prevent successful cyberattacks. At the same time, companies and other organisations need to prioritize strengthening their own cybersecurity. This is where boards of directors and the C-suite have a role. Senior executives need to understand and manage cybersecurity risks and guide their organizations – whether in the private or public sectors – to make the appropriate investments in cybersecurity.
Palo Alto Networks commitments within the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition are encapsulated in two of our signature efforts:
1. Palo Alto Networks Academy Program: Training students with hands-on cybersecurity knowledge
The International Information System Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, forecasts an overall cybersecurity skills shortage of 350,000 workers in Europe by 2022. Security professionals across the public and private sectors alike agree that cybersecurity training must be considered a high priority as the sophistication and volume of successful cyberattacks increase, threatening our digital way of life. Palo Alto Networks is committed to equipping this next generation of students with the hands-on cybersecurity knowledge they will need to keep pace with the ever-changing global cyberthreat landscape and learn best practices for preventing cyberattacks. The Palo Alto Networks Academy will provide cybersecurity courseware, certifications, faculty training, instructional resources and next-generation security platform lab technology at no cost to qualified European academic institutions. We will also be actively involved in sponsoring and supporting collegiate and secondary cybersecurity competitions in Europe. The start of this project is scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.
As of June 2017, nearly 40 educational institutions in the EU were members of the Palo Alto Networks Cyber Academy Program. In the 2016–2017 school year, we are training more than 400 students in the EU. Under the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, we’ve pledged to train 2,000 students by the end of 2018 and add 80 new qualified European academic institutions to our Authorized Academy Program by the end of 2018.
2. Navigating the Digital Age books: Educating CEOs and boards of directors across Europe on cybersecurity as a business issue
Palo Alto Networks believes cybersecurity is a business issue, not simply an IT issue. Today’s businesses must have the knowledge base, skills and tools needed to mitigate the cyber risks inherent in our digital age. Palo Alto Networks pledges to bring cybersecurity awareness to the European C-suite, in government agencies and in the private sector, by leveraging the European editions of our book series, “Navigating the Digital Age: The Definitive Cybersecurity Guide for Directors and Officers.” These books share best practices with chapters authored by European CEOs, CISOs, lawyers and consultants, as well as current and former government officials. Additionally, the books address current cybersecurity issues that businesses must consider, including how to manage strategic cybersecurity initiatives at the boardroom level, as well as how to navigate relevant EU and country-level legislation.
We have launched three European versions to date – France, United Kingdom and Benelux – all of which are available for free online. Under the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, we’ve pledged to distribute thousands of additional free copies of the books and hold roundtables and other events on the topics they cover. We would be pleased to join forces with governments throughout Europe to bring these messages to the C-suite in government agencies and the private sector.
Palo Alto Networks welcomes the European Commission’s emphasis on digital skills and education in the EU. As a member of the cybersecurity community, we have a deep interest in promoting and contributing to cybersecurity awareness and education throughout Europe. We are excited to join and contribute to the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, and look forward to working with its other stakeholders involved in digital skills development.