BOISE, Idaho — Boise State University's Cyberdome platform works to fill two needs in the cybersecurity industry: more cybersecurity professionals and better cyber protection for rural communities.
"I was a teacher for over ten years in a local school district. I have a background in math and engineering and I thought, time for a career change," said Sara Mount, a masters student at BSU who works on the training materials for undergrad students involved in the Cyberdome.
She says cybersecurity is important because of growth in related fields.
"The technology field is growing here and cybersecurity needs to grow along with that, hand in hand," Mount said.
Edward Vasko, the director of the BSU Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity and the Cyberdome platform said there is a worker shortage in the cybersecurity industry that has been a challenge for decades.
Right now in Idaho, 3000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled.
Vasko said rural communities are especially susceptible to attacks because they lack the resources to combat them.
"They have critical data. They have residential data, they have critical infrastructure. They have water systems, gas systems that they're using within their local communities to provide services out to their residents," he said.
And Vasko said those systems are under attack.
"There's also interconnection between our rural communities and our rural counties and our urban counties," he said.
With clients like Sun Valley, BSU's Cyberdome is filling this gap.
The Cyberdome also aims to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals in Idaho by giving students real-world experience, monitoring cyber threats, and working with real clients.
"They can actually say to an employer, I have done these things and I'm ready to work," Vasko said.
This is something Anton Leslie, a junior at BSU said is a big positive.
"I never really grew up thinking I was going to do something like this so it was a good experience getting involved with this," he said. "It's actually helped me involve myself more into the cybersecurity and learn more faster and be able to help me ease into my classes and be able to know things before the professor even introduces them."