Top cybersecurity leaders connect with young security newbs

There's a grassroots movement growing in cybersecurity

students in classroom on computers
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Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders, President Trump. They are notable names because they started something from the ground up, and those movements grew. Everyone loves to be part of a movement, especially one that matters. More importantly, people want to be part of a movement that is on the right side of history.

There's an infectious energy and excitement that makes people giddy by tapping into their passions and offering them hope, and 'hope springs eternal'. 

When thinking about the kind of future we want, I'd say that what Steve Morgan and the Phi Beta Cyber Society are doing for the security industry will be on the right side of history.

One by one impressively-credentialed industry leaders are hand picked to join the society, committing to a minimum of one invitation a year to guest speak at a local high school and encourage students to consider cybersecurity to fill the growing need for jobs in the space.

I had the chance to engage in a bit of a Q&A with Morgan about the nomination process and the goals of the cyber society (I'm hoping that he tosses my name in the hat for his next pick).

Here's what Morgan had to say of the work that has been done and the work they hope to continue doing.

How are people chosen?

Women and men are chosen based on their years of experience (preferably 15 or more), their roles and responsibilities in cyber during their career, noteworthy contributions to the cybersecurity community, and relevant accomplishments; such as, breakthrough technology innovations, business achievements, patents, and published works. Basically, we are looking for the best possible cyber role models for high school students.

Why high schools?

There are over 200,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S., not to mention one million globally. That's a severe cyber workforce shortage, and it's getting worse. We expect 1.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2019. We can cross-train some of our current IT workforce, but we can't depend on that.

There are more than 15 million high school students in the U.S. They are our future cybercrime fighters. They represent the largest demographic who can realistically make a big dent or solve the labor shortage, but it won't happen unless there's a very concerted effort to reach out to the students.

What are the goals of recruiting?

If you want to get kids listening to the cybersecurity story, then you need to invite compelling figures to come in and speak with them. How do you get a high school girl excited about the idea of entering the cybersecurity field? You have a top woman in cyber talk. Kids need to see people and hear stories from real life cyber experts. That's why we are restricting membership in the society to top people in cyber.

Is the answers to the skills gap recruiting young people or should the industry focus more on automation and Innovation?

The cybersecurity industry has been introducing cutting edge new automation and innovation over the past decade. Technology promises to reduce the need for labor, and it has to some extent. But look at where we are: a labor epidemic. We have no empirical data to support the notion that technology can solve the labor crisis.

We are fooling ourselves if we believe that new technologies will reduce the need for cybersecurity professionals. Big data security analytics and cognitive security are being touted as the latest breakthrough innovations to cut down on the need for cyber staff. But the big picture is that cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion last year. The rise in cybercrime is going to offset any labor reduction due to new technologies.

Additional members of the Phi Beta Cyber Society include:

  • Gary Hayslip, CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) for the City of San Diego, the eighth largest city in the U.S.
  • Dr. Larry Snyder, Director of Masters in Science in CyberSecurity Management, Bay Path College in Long Meadow, Mass.
  • ​Gary Miliefsky, CEO at Snoopwall​ and Founder of Cyber Defense Magazine
    James Baird, Vice President, IT Security and Compliance at the American Cancer Society
  • Rob Dodson, Master Security Consultant, Security Strategy and Risk Management at Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Scott Schober, cybersecurity inventor, CEO at Berkeley Varitronics Systems, and author of the book​, “Hacked Again”
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