Udacity’s new online degree targets ‘most pressing issue of our time’

Just last week, the U.S. and U.K. issued a rare joint warning regarding the possibility of a wave of Russian cyberattacks against not only governments and organizations, but people’s homes and offices, too.

Regardless of whether such attacks are launched with the help of a state or by individuals sitting at home in their pajamas, few will dispute the suggestion that the threat from hackers is growing, with the problem made all the greater by a shortage of experts to bolster online defenses.

It’s against this backdrop that elearning school Udacity is making preparations for its first-ever nanodegree program in cybersecurity.

In a post outlining the upcoming program, Christian Plagemann, Udacity’s vice president of learning, defined cybersecurity as “one of the most pressing issues of our time,” which, he notes, is becoming an increasingly complex issue with so much of our business and personal data now stored in the cloud.

“Fortunately, with the rise of new technologies, modern cloud architectures and software-defined infrastructure, and better collaboration between IT, engineering, and security professionals, we now have the tools and abilities to rise to the challenge,” Plagemann said, adding that Udacity’s new course will help train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

There aren’t a whole lot of details available regarding the course at this stage. Indeed, the page set aside for the new learning program currently displays a call for partners to offer their expertise in helping to design the course, as well as sponsorship assistance to go toward encouraging high-potential talent to join the course. In return, contributing businesses and organizations will have “priority access” to cybersecurity talent from the nanodegree program.

Plagemann points out that with Udacity having already produced around 10,000 qualified A.I. engineers, he has high hopes for the new cybersecurity course.

“Graduates of this program will be uniquely qualified to significantly raise the security standards at their current organizations, or find entirely new career opportunities in this field,” he said.

California-based Udacity was founded back in 2011 to offer online courses, both free and paid, to large numbers of people. The company’s most recent data shows that more than eight million students have enrolled in its free courses and more than 30,000 have taken part in its nanodegree programs, some of which have been created in collaboration with big-name firms such as Google, Amazon, IBM, Nvidia, and Mercedes-Benz.