Microsoft expands cybersecurity skills initiative to 23 more countries as latest attacks show problem

The cybersecurity skills gap is growing around the world, this Microsoft graphic shows. (See interactive version.)

Microsoft is expanding its cybersecurity training program globally, seeking to give workers the skills needed to help fill what Cybersecurity Ventures estimates will be 3.5 million open jobs in the field by 2025.

The expansion will bring the program to an additional 23 countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Microsoft launched the program in the U.S. last fall in partnership with community colleges around the country. One goal is to bring more women and other underrepresented people into the field, according to Kate Behncken, the vice president in charge of Microsoft Philanthropies.

“From supply chain disruptions to ransomware attacks, cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated and the threat landscape more diverse,” Behncken wrote in a post about the expansion. “These cybersecurity challenges are compounded by a workforce shortage; there simply aren’t enough people with the cybersecurity skills needed to fill open jobs.”

The latest cybersecurity developments illustrate the challenge.

Microsoft confirmed overnight that it was targeted by including attacks by LAPSUS$, a hacker group known for a “pure extortion and destruction model,” but without serious impact on the company.

“Our investigation has found a single account had been compromised, granting limited access,” the company wrote in a summary Tuesday night. “Our cybersecurity response teams quickly engaged to remediate the compromised account and prevent further activity. Microsoft does not rely on the secrecy of code as a security measure and viewing source code does not lead to elevation of risk.”

Separately, the Biden administration this week urged U.S. companies to harden their cybersecurity defenses, due to concerns over Russian cyberattacks related to the invasion of Ukraine.

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Microsoft, which detected cyberattacks against Ukraine in advance of the invasion last month, this morning posted an update on its initiatives in the country, including its efforts to help the Ukrainian government identify cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could be exploited in online attacks.

Updated on March 26 with attribution to Cybersecurity Ventures as the source of the cybersecurity jobs gap estimate.

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