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Greenbelt company offering free cybersecurity training closes seed round

A Greenbelt-based company hoping to grow the world’s cybersecurity workforce by offering free online training nabbed

Ryan Corey, co-founder of Cybrary. (Photo courtesy of Cybrary)

Ryan Corey, co-founder of Cybrary. (Photo courtesy of Cybrary)

$400,000 in seed funding with help from a local angel investor.

Cybrary, which launched in January, offers more than 25 courses in areas such as systems administration, ethical hacking — intended to test security systems rather than cause trouble — and computer-based investigation.

While there’s enormous demand for cybersecurity professionals worldwide, training is often prohibitively expensive, Cybrary co-founder Ryan Corey said in an interview.

“We’re trying to take down the cybersecurity skills gap,” Cybrary said.

Cisco Systems Inc. recently estimated that there are as many as 1 million unfilled cybersecurity positions worldwide; others have suggested that number could grow to 1.5 million by 2020.

Rather than offer in-person, multi-day seminars like other organizations that provide cybersecurity training, Cybrary offers online, prerecorded classes that users can watch at their own pace, Corey said.”[And] we decided to make it free.”

Cybrary doesn’t currently provide assessments or certifications for its students, but its website will direct them to organizations that do offer certification in the topics they study.

The Cybrary method can be particularly useful to those who are new to the field, such as parents looking to make their home networks more secure, Corey said. “They don’t know where to start,” he said.

So far, Cybrary has drawn about 180,000 users from all over the world, about 28 percent of whom are located in the U.S., Corey said. The company averages about 1,500 new users per day, he said.

In addition to its free course offerings, Cybrary has been hired by other companies to provide specialized training to their employees, Corey said. Online advertising has also generated revenue, but the company is likely to phase that out as it prepares to launch a paid resume-sharing platform on its website, he said.

Justin Label, principal investor of Inner Loop Capital. (Photo courtesy of Inner Loop Capital.)

Justin Label, principal investor of Inner Loop Capital. (Photo courtesy of Inner Loop Capital.)

Recruiters and businesses will be able to use the platform to search for talent, review resumes and contact users, Corey said.

Cybrary is close to breaking even and plans to use the additional funds its raised to expand course offerings with advanced training in fields such as secure coding  and threat development as well as courses for the home and family, Corey said.

The recently completed seed round was led by an investment by Inner Loop Capital, which makes angel investments in cybersecurity companies in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.

“One of the biggest weak points in the whole [cybersecurity] industry is the availability of trained talent,” said Justin Label, Inner Loop’s principal investor. “We need a scale-able revolution as to how we train people in the industry.”

The million or more people needed to fill the cybersecurity skills gap can’t be trained in multi-day classes that cost thousands of dollars each; the online education model is really the only option, Label said.

Cybrary is the only organization Label has encountered that is addressing that need, he said.

“I think it’s going to do great things for the industry,” Label said.