It is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that one day we will once again hear these words: “A date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked…”
The attack could come cyber and information warfare cells of the People’s Liberation Army of China, hackers from the Middle East or even members of the North Korean military.
These inauspicious words should sound familiar. President Roosevelt spoke them when declaring war on the Empire of Japan following their twilight ambush on Pearl Harbor. America was unprepared for an attack and paid the price dearly.
In the 75 years since, the battlefield and the ways with which wars are fought and won has changed significantly. This great nation finds itself quickly approaching the possibility of the modern electronic Pearl Harbor, fought virtually via highly skilled cyber-warfare units rather than warships and airplanes. America must learn from history and prepare or it is doomed to repeat it.
While China is by far the most aggressive in it’s cyber warfare against the United States, numerous other countries continue to attempt to gain access into America’s networks, government and private. From North Korea to ISIS cells across the globe, America’s computer networks are vulnerable and America is not providing the resources or opportunity for citizens to adequately fill the increasing demand for cybersecurity careers. Just this past week, we discovered that the America’s nuclear missile defense is still run on floppy disks
Code.org reports there were only 42,969 computer science graduates while there were 559,321 jobs posted in related fields last year. These facts reveal the unfortunate reality that America’s education system, designed in the 1800s, is sorely outdated and potentially putting the nation at risk.
Computer science programs are widely available nationwide, however only three of the top 121 universities require students to complete at least three courses in computer science in order to graduate. The fault does not solely lie with higher level education, but with all levels. Only 29 states recognize computer science classes to count toward high school graduation requirements. If nothing else, the current system is driving students away from pursuing an education in these highly demanded fields of study.
America may not be producing enough qualified individuals, but plenty of other countries are and those individuals are utilizing the high tech, H1B visas to fill the demand. A common talking point today is the increasing dependency on skilled, overseas labor and its negative impact on the American economy. The solution comes a genuine commitment to strengthening this nation’s computer science education on all levels. By doing so, more Americans will be qualified to fill these jobs rather than seeing them handed to the foreign labor force.
Perhaps more importantly, the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities will be exponentially increased, able to respond and defend to the onslaught of attacks committed continuously if we would embrace the inevitable future. A unified commitment to computer science in education will give America the virtual frontline defense that might protect its citizens from both an attack by a foreign enemy and the growing need to experiencing another day which will live in infamy, a Pearl Harbor 2.0.