Google is committing $20 million to help train thousands of students in the information security field in collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet, announced Thursday.
The funding will be used to develop clinics at 20 higher education centers across the U.S. The clinics will help train students from diverse backgrounds in cybersecurity with the intent that they, in turn, can provide security to under-resourced organizations in local communities.
“These clinics provide free security services in the same way law or medical schools offer free clinics in their communities,” Pichai said in an announcement made in Washington, according to a blog post from Google. “They give students the opportunity to learn and improve their skills, while helping to protect critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and energy grids.”
Starting in October, Google will begin to accept applications from higher education centers looking to establish local clinics. Google employees will serve as volunteer mentors to students at these programs.
Google also plans to offer scholarships for students to earn Google Cybersecurity Certificates for free.
“Google’s leadership in expanding the cybersecurity clinic model across the United States will be transformative,” Ann Cleaveland, co-chair of the Consortium and executive director of the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, said in a statement. “This dedicated investment in cybersecurity clinics is about civic engagement, hands-on cybersecurity training, propelling new talent into the profession and defending public interest organizations.”
The program helps address two key problems in the information security business. There has been a massive shortage of qualified security professionals for years, making it very difficult to provide adequate staffing in government and private sector security operations.
The other problem is that smaller community-based critical infrastructure providers like schools, hospitals and utilities lack the money or expertise to have on-site staff dedicated to network security. As a result, many of these local organizations cannot fend off sophisticated attacks.