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UK Certifies 6 New Cybersecurity Masters' Degrees

The workforce skills gap continues to widen as businesses desperately search for qualified security personnel amidst a snowballing threat landscape. To help remedy the situation, GCHQ, as the UK’s national technical authority for information assurance, has certified six more masters' degrees in cybersecurity.

This year, for the first time, GCHQ includes certification for masters' in digital forensics and integrated masters' in computer science and cybersecurity.

The new certified masters' are available at the University of Kent, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Holloway, University of London, University of Southampton, University of South Wales and University College London.

This is the third time that GCHQ has awarded certification of masters' degrees in cybersecurity, and brings the current total to 18 of them made available from 14 universities.

Applications for certification were assessed by a panel of expert advisors drawn from across industry, academia and government. The successful universities all had to meet the rigorous assessment criteria which demand a well-defined and appropriate degree content.

“With the UK being one of the most advanced digital economies in the world, GCHQ-certified masters' degrees help employers to recruit skilled staff and develop the cyber-skills of existing employees, in order to help make the UK one of the most secure places to do business in cyberspace and resilient to cyber-attack,” the department said. “GCHQ certification also helps universities to attract high-quality students from around the world, and prospective students to make better-informed choices when looking for a highly valued qualification.”

Due to the predicted increase in demand for information security personnel outpacing the supply, the global workforce shortage will reach 1.5 million within five years, the not-for-profit certification body predicts in its 2015 Global Information Security Workforce Study. This is despite the fact that researchers Frost & Sullivan predict in the biennial study that the size of the global infosec workforce will actually increase by 6% within one year.

As it stands, 62% of survey respondents—from a sample of nearly 14,000 qualified security professionals worldwide—report that their organizations have too few security professionals. Healthcare and education are the two verticals where the shortfall is most keenly felt—76% of respondents from each of these sectors report being understaffed in terms of security.

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