Working with Veterans to Bridge the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

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The world is experiencing a significant shortfall in cybersecurity skills – to the tune of 2.9 million people. Veterans are uniquely positioned to help fill this critical gap. Government, enterprise and higher education are working on initiatives to raise up the cybersecurity workforce needed to address serious threats to industry, commerce and even critical infrastructure. To help alleviate this reality, organizations are increasingly implementing cybersecurity training and certification programs for their employees.

Skills transitioning to fill the cyber gap

As events like the Ukraine power grid hack demonstrate, the stability of society and global economies cannot be guaranteed without effective cybersecurity. And cybersecurity absolutely depends on technology innovation, which requires well-trained professionals to help curb the ever-expanding landscape of cybersecurity threats. One initiative aimed at fulfilling this goal is Fortinet’s FortiVet program. Through this and other programs, Fortinet is committed to solving the global cybersecurity skills shortage by confronting the real issue – the talent gap.

The goal of the FortiVet program is to help exceptional veterans transition their skills from the military into the cybersecurity industry, providing professional networking, training and mentoring. There is a connection between defending the country in the Armed Services and defending critical information for businesses and government agencies. The program recognizes this and provides benefits such as professional networking, training in the latest networking and security technologies, interview coaching, resume review and revision, and mentoring.

Q&A with a FortiVet graduate

Currently, FortiVet is working with many veterans, and dozens more have graduated from it. Graduates are successfully starting their careers in cybersecurity at Fortinet, as well as at its distribution and technology partners. One of the program’s graduates, Moses Jones, is a four-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is currently a Security Operations Center Technicianat Optiv Security. Below, he shares his experience being part of FortiVet.   

What is you background in the military?

During my four years in the U.S. Navy, I had the role of Operations Specialist. My team was central to the ship. We were the eyes and ears and handled communications, tactical readiness and more. Looking back, this is where my passion for security arose. My military experience gave me a lifetime advantage in working in any technical/communication capacity.

What is your current role?

I am a Security Operations Center (SOC) technician for Optiv Security. I provide technical support to Optiv Security customers in a call center environment, by aiding in product research, following up on open issues and acting as a liaison between the customer and business partner. I also troubleshoot customer systems issues via the phone and open/track trouble tickets in our ticketing system and maintain technical knowledge and troubleshooting skills on the SOC supported products and services. 

How did you end up taking part in the FortiVet program?

I made a goal in 2018 to do more personal networking. LinkedIn was a great resource, and that is where I came across Fortinet’s FortiVet program. I was introduced to Jay Garcia, Global Veterans Program Team Lead for FortiVet. After a few interviews, he became a mentor for me. I was able to a get a Battlecard, which is like a resume for recruiters, and take full advantage of the great benefits FortiVet has to offer such as resume building, mock interviews and connections to employers.

What role does FortiVet play in filling the talent gap in cybersecurity?

I found out first-hand that getting your foot in the cybersecurity industry door is difficult. While I had a couple of certifications, I didn’t have a lot of experience, which is critical for landing a job in cybersecurity. By participating in the FortiVet program, I was able to stand out and be recognized for my accomplishments despite my lack of experience in the field. Without the program, I truly believe the knowledge and degree I’d acquired would be dwindling away. This program is crucial and has greatly benefited my family and me.

Why hire military veterans?

Military veterans bring a particular set of qualities to the civilian workforce. For instance, as a veteran, I can be trusted. I served my country and was honorably discharged. Having a veteran on your team means having someone who has proven to be courageous, focused, disciplined, dependable and selfless. A practical advantage to hiring a military veteran is being able to hire talent that either currently has or has previously had some level of security clearance. Also, it’s our job as a nation to take care of those who served us, and hiring veterans does just that.  

How does a company benefit from hiring someone from the FortiVet program?

Veterans from the FortiVet Program come with all the benefits I just mentioned – and more. Companies will get someone who has been recently vetted to make sure they line up in person with what they look like on paper. Another benefit is having qualified candidates. FortiVet does such a great job matching qualifications and expectations, which saves employers a lot of time when recruiting. The level of rigor during the interviewing process for FortiVet also proves that the candidate can deliver results under pressure. As an added bonus, FortiVet candidates have access to hours of free training provided as part of NSE Institute’s certification program that prepares them for various levels of certifications.

Filling the Gap Proactively

There are two challenges in the modern cybersecurity landscape that public and private organizations alike are trying to overcome: not only does the threat landscape continue to expand and grow in complexity, but the skilled professionals needed to combat these threats are hard to find.

Working with veterans re-entering the civilian workforce can help address both problems. Veterans trained in the latest cybersecurity skills and techniques can help fill the talent gap while adding the valuable attributes unique to those who have served in the armed forces. These include discipline, a teamwork orientation and a strong work ethic. Proactive public and private organizations recognize their part in solving the cybersecurity skills gap and can develop programs that provide much-needed training. This move helps not only the organizations themselves but the larger skills gap problem as well.

Learn more about Fortinet’s NSE Institute programs, including the Network Security Expert programNetwork Security Academy program and FortiVets program.


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