Successful cybersecurity takes an all-hands-on-deck effort

With cybersecurity talent in short supply, academia, industry and government must work together to cultivate a cybersecurity interest in today's youth.

It is no secret that the cybersecurity workforce needs some support, and academia, industry and the government are working together to combat the scarcity of cybersecurity personnel.

Speakers from academia and industry gathered on Friday to talk about cybersecurity issues and needs on a web discussion hosted by Northrop Grumman and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The resounding message of the web discussion—named Pulse on Building the Cyber Workforce—was that achieving successful cybersecurity is an all-hands-on-deck effort.

From academia to industry to government, and no matter a person’s background, cybersecurity has a need for every kind of person.

That means government agencies, like the National Security Agency, funding academic programs that expose students to computer science at a young age, said Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, UMBC president.

“There is an ecosystem developing here in Maryland, including teaching teachers in [grades] K-12, how to go about teaching these courses in computer science that can lead to cybersecurity,” Hrabowski said.

Lauren Mazzoli, a young cyber software engineer at Northrop Grumman, recounted her experience during college and talked about exploring computer science even despite feeling a slight intimidation toward it. Once she realized she did not have to be the “smartest person in the room,” Mazzoli said, she started to feel more comfortable, especially given that cybersecurity threats change constantly.

Mazzoli was able to supplement her cybersecurity studies with extracurricular activities. “I worked on campus at the IT department where I helped track down students that were downloading things on campus,” she said, admitting it was a mini exposure to cybersecurity.

“Software companies are driven by people. That’s the largest investment you have, that’s the largest investment you make,” said Eric Conn, cofounder and CEO of Leverege, a company that focuses on Internet of Things platforms and solutions.

But part of solving the issue of the scarce cybersecurity workforce is realizing that every person has a place in the cyber world so long as they are curious and want to learn things and work hard to achieve them, Conn said.

“We use the word ‘grit,’” Hrabowski said. “It’s about how hard you’re willing to work, to ask questions, to get involved and to get help.”

Hrabowski said that UMBC’s cybersecurity programs have not only computer scientists involved in them, but also humanities majors and other students focused on things like cybersecurity law and policy.

“Anybody can do this if you’re willing to work hard,” Hrabowski added.

Conn echoed Hrabowski, saying that, to him, the four most important factors of successful cybersecurity personnel are passion, grit, intelligence and curiosity.

However, Conn believes that one of the issues behind the slim cybersecurity workforce is that people fail to recognize the importance of cybersecurity.

“Digital is the new front line, and I don’t think the general public appreciates that because we haven’t had our ‘Pearl Harbor’ moment where, all of a sudden, GPS is denied for a day,” he said.

With fresh cybersecurity talent being in scant supply, however, companies need to be extra competitive in order to hire those new employees. Maybe the best way to do this, Hrabowski said, is to work with students before they graduate by offering them substantive internships.

“The worst thing that could happen is to bring in a young person and have them be bored,” he said, stressing the need to give interns substantive work with reasonable people who will work with their interns to help them learn.

“Students are impressed by the human experience,” he said. This, more times than not, Hrabowski added, means that internships should be paid internships. Given all of these factors, those students will want to go back to that environment, he said.

Mazzoli agreed that a company meeting her halfway was a key factor in choosing where to work. “I’m currently pursuing my master’s [degree] at UMBC in computer science, so having the flexibility to go to class during the middle of the day, having the support from the company to help pay for classes, all of that was a key factor when I looked at different companies,” she said.

Mentorships are also a great way to get younger talent involved, trained and ready to go when they join your company, Mazzoli said.

At the end of the day, the speakers agreed that cybersecurity is a pressing matter in the current world, that partnership between academia, industry and government is key, and that more attention needs to paid to cybersecurity by the general public, as every person can contribute something to the cause.

NEXT STORY: Has the IG doomed 18F?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.