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Cybersecurity breaches are in the news constantly. Just this week, Carphone Warehouse, the British mobile phone retailer, disclosed that data on up to 2.4 million customers had been compromised due to a sophisticated cyberattack.
Hackers are getting ever more creative, too. A drone capable of landing on skyscrapers or inside walled compounds could crack Wi-Fi networks within close range, as revealed at a recent Def Con hacker gathering.
Unfortunately, cybersecurity training hasn’t kept up with the rising threats and sophistication of attacks, says Cybrary co-founder Ryan Corey. At $3,000 to $5,000 for a one-week course, the training needed to combat cybersecurity is often too expensive for young professionals hoping to break into the field or for more established professionals needing to brush up their skills. And with technological advancements occurring so rapidly, skills learned in cybersecurity training courses may no longer be applicable within two years.
With these concerns in mind, Corey launched Cybrary with CEO Ralph Sita in January 2015. Their goal: Make cybersecurity learning for individuals "free and open source," in order to put it in the hands of everyone -- from entry-level professionals all the way up to business leaders. Cybrary is also working to help bring more women into the field through a partnership with Women in Technology (WIT). By open-sourcing training for everyone, Cybrary hopes to help close the gap in unfilled cybersecurity jobs around the world, which Cisco has said totals about 1 million jobs.
The five-person, Maryland-based startup has seen considerable traction in registered user growth, zooming from about 20,000 users in early February to nearly 160,000 as of early August. "We’re currently growing by about 1,000 users per day," Corey says, "Two weeks ago, we were growing by 800 users daily and four weeks ago, we had 600 to 700 new users every day."
Cybrary seeks to make money later this year by charging organizations to post positions on a planned global job board and charging recruiters for access to job seeker profiles. Other revenue streams include charging SMBs and enterprises for cybersecurity services, such as help with Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance, as well as courses for training their staff. For example, one such course, "End User Security Awareness," is designed to educate all types of employees—not just IT or cyber security folk—on how to avoid phishing emails and other cyber security risks.
The company launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year to hire a mobile app developer. A mobile app is essential to offering Cybrary courses globally, Corey says. Many developing nations have weak and inconsistent Internet access, and the app will enable users to download course materials to a mobile device. A total of 479 people backed the Kickstarter, pledging $25,803.
In addition, Cybrary will soon announce seed funding, Corey says, but he wasn’t able to disclose details.
According to Corey, Cybrary’s main challenge is "making sure this tool is available to everyone who needs it." For example, getting its courses transcribed into multiple languages to reach a global audience is no small undertaking. The company needs to beef up its B2B sales expertise, too.
Another challenge: Some worry that Cybrary’s free online courses will give hackers the knowledge they need to carry out malicious acts. While Corey admits this could happen, he adds that determined hackers will get access to such information "no matter what we do." At the same time, Cybrary is "putting power in the hands of people to counter act cyber threats," he adds.
(Example of a Cybrary course. Source: Cybrary)
Editor’s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. Growth companies can apply to present, or those similarly obsessed can register here to attend.