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In the world of cybersecurity, a shortage of talent needed to fill open positions is one of the biggest challenges that many companies face. In the U.S. alone, job tracker Cyber Seek estimates there are currently about 460,000 openings in cybersecurity — and worldwide estimates run into the millions.
Among the other top challenges for companies is a related but separate issue: it’s increasingly critical that all employees become cyber savvy, to a certain degree.
For instance, phishing attacks continue to be common — and the only way to completely thwart them is with greater awareness in the general workforce. (In the event of a successful phishing attack, 60% of organizations end up losing data and 47% end up infected with ransomware, according to Proofpoint data.)
Another grave threat facing countless companies today is the security of their software supply chain, particularly open source software. And there, many companies are also relying on non-security personnel — their developers — to help ensure that applications are secure.
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What these security skills challenges have in common with the talent shortage is that more training is needed — whether that’s training for professionals going into the security field, or skills enhancement for the broader workforce.
The need for more training in both of these areas is what one fast-growing company, ThriveDX, has set out to accomplish.
Formerly known as HackerU, ThriveDX is seeking to help address the cybersecurity talent shortage with training programs for aspiring professionals in the field, delivered in partnership with major universities. Meanwhile, ThriveDX also offers a digital platform for enterprises that addresses the security skills part of the equation—with online offerings that include phishing and security awareness training and secure coding.
To help with expanding both of these training offerings, the company today announced a growth funding round of more than $100 million (the exact amount wasn’t specified). The round was co-led by security-focused venture firm NightDragon and Prytek, a technology investor that had previously backed ThriveDX over multiple rounds. To date, Prytek has invested a total of $110 million into ThriveDX, according to a news release. The total amount of funding that ThriveDX has raised to date was not immediately available.
NightDragon and affiliates invested $75 million as part of the new round. Dave DeWalt, founder and managing director of NightDragon, and previously the CEO of cyber firms including FireEye and McAfee, has joined the board of directors at ThriveDX.
ThriveDX was founded in 2006 in Israel by CEO Gil Adani and Dan Vigdor, who is executive chairman of the firm. ThriveDX’s revenue more than doubled in 2021 and is expected to more than double again this year, Vigdor said.
The workforce training side includes partnerships with more than 20 universities, including New York University, the University of Michigan, American University, and Kansas State University. In addition to cybersecurity, workforce training programs available through ThriveDX and its university partners include software development, UI/UX design, digital marketing, and data science and analytics.
While in normal times the programs would be based in a classroom on campus, the courses have been held over Zoom during the pandemic, Vigdor said.
For the cybersecurity professional training track, an introductory course is followed by courses on Microsoft security, computer networking, cloud security, and eight more courses, according to the ThriveDX website.
“Learners receive advanced cybersecurity training to build a stronger skill set and gain experience applicable to passing the industry’s most essential certification exams: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA CySA+, LPI Linux Essentials, Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate, and (ISC)2 SSCP,” the website says.
Completing the program will “completely prepare” the graduate for a job in areas such as computer forensics, threat analysis, and network defense, the site says.
About 40% of graduates of the program either already have a job, or find a job by the end of the program—and for the remaining 60%, nearly all are placed into a job via career services, he said. “Really, whoever wants to find a job will get a job — because the jobs out there,” Vigdor said.
One of the goals of the new funding is to expand the ThriveDX workforce training programs to additional universities and increase enrollments in 2022, he said.
Another goal is to expand the online training platform to more enterprise customers. ThriveDX currently has more than 500 customers, including Toyota, Microsoft, Bank of America, Intel, Lufthansa, Bosch, PWC, Deloitte, and Snapchat. The company plans to build out its sales organization this year with the help of the new funding, Vigdor said.
The online platform component originated with Cybint, which HackerU acquired last August—leading to the rebrand of the combined company as ThriveDX.
The online platform is offered in a subscription, software-as-a-service model, and includes a cybersecurity essentials workshop — a day-long overview of multiple security topics — in addition to the phishing awareness and secure coding offerings.
For the phishing program, ThriveDX “combines security awareness training and attack simulations for a comprehensive approach to knowledge and skill building,” the company’s website says.
Coral Gables, Florida-based ThriveDX currently has 2,200 employees in total and is expecting to end the year at 3,200, Vigdor said.
Closing the skills gap
A key opportunity for ThriveDX going forward is to set up “internal corporate academies” for customers, to provide enterprises with the training in cybersecurity and other digital skills “that they would need their specific employees to have,” he said.
Ultimately, “we want to grow and impact the talent pipeline,” Vigdor said. And that includes broadening out the cybersecurity field to bring in more talent from underserved communities as well, he said.
“The way we think that we’ll be able to close the digital skills gap is really to bring economically and academically disadvantaged students from underserved communities into the digital industry, into our programs,” Vigdor said.
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