Arizona getting help developing cybersecurity professionals
By Steve Zylstra Guest blogger
$5.2 trillion. That’s how much bigger the global economy could be over the next five years if cybersecurity protection improves.
43 percent. That’s the percentage of cyber attacks that target small businesses.
And 60 percent is the rate at which small businesses fail after being attacked.
From the global to the local, cybersecurity breaches affect us in nearly every aspect of our lives. Hackers don’t discriminate. They attack small businesses and multinational corporations, federal agencies and local school districts, the young and old, the rich and poor.
Many people have called the internet the modern battlefield and cybersecurity professionals the warriors of the digital age. Getting better at protecting ourselves, our businesses, our citizens and our communities against cyber threats will be one of the defining challenges of the next decade — and something we absolutely have to get right.
The chief reason cyber attacks are increasing in number, scope, sophistication and damage is it is really hard to get ahead of the hackers. Cybersecurity in 2019 and beyond requires a very different approach than we’re used to. And that requires a very different kind of cybersecurity professional.
The problem is there are far more job openings in cybersecurity than qualified candidates to fill them. That’s true around the country, and it’s true in Arizona. According to CyberSeek, Arizona employers between September 2017 and August 2018 posted 7,867 cybersecurity-related jobs — almost half the total cybersecurity workforce in the state.
The numbers paint an accurately stark picture of the tough challenge. But in Arizona, we have been making enough progress to grow the kind of ecosystem that supports innovation of both technology and talent development. That’s one reason I’m excited but not surprised that the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Conference and Expo will be held Nov. 18-20 in Phoenix.
The theme of the conference is “Reimagining the Future of the Cybersecurity Workforce: Adapting to a Changing Landscape.” Here in Arizona, members of the cybersecurity ecosystem — employers, policymakers, workforce training partners, and educators at all levels — have been innovating new ways to address the cybersecurity challenge by doing just that: adapting.
For example, an innovative high-tech apprenticeship program launched by the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s Cybersecurity Collaborative already has proved valuable to local employer Salt River Project. Apprenti focuses on mid-level tech jobs, which employers often say are the hardest to fill. The collaborative includes the Arizona Technology Council as a partner.
Another example of industry-led progress is Kudelski Security launching a high school apprenticeship program. Its first apprentices are students from the Phoenix Coding Academy, part of the Phoenix Union High School District. The Swiss tech company strengthened its ties to our community by establishing its U.S. headquarters in Phoenix.
Progress also is being made on the policy side. For example, Gov. Doug Ducey created the Arizona Cybersecurity Team last year. Made up of experts from state, local, and federal government, the private sector, and higher education, ACT members are working together to protect Arizonans from cyber attacks, enhance cybersecurity workforce development and education, and increase public awareness on cybersecurity best practices.
This level of activity tells me organizers of the NICE conference could not have picked a better place for the event. Co-hosted by Arizona State University, Florida International University and New America, the conference will convene business leaders, educators, community and economic development organizations, students and job seekers, hiring managers, and policymakers to address cybersecurity education, training and workforce needs.
The conference will include four tracks: Partnering for a Stronger Community, Connecting Theory and Practice, The Impacts of Future Technologies on the Cybersecurity Workforce and Expanding Skill Development through Lifelong Learning. Speakers and panelists will include Walt Copan, U.S. Commerce Department undersecretary for standards and technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology director; Shamla Naido, global chief information security officer at IBM; Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America.
As a prelude to the conference and to kick off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, ASU is co-hosting a day of community-building events on Oct. 2. To learn more, click here.
Whether you’re an employer or an educator, a current or potential future cybersecurity professional, Arizona needs you as part of this growing ecosystem. We have an opportunity to solidify our place as a national leader in cybersecurity. Join us to claim your spot starting Nov. 18.