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The Importance of Building a Cyber Workforce

In order to meet the cyber challenges of today, we must build upon the knowledge, skills and abilities of tomorrow. In order to protect networks and our critical infrastructure, we must be armed with the right resources, people and tools. To do this, many organizations across the globe are developing partnerships with universities, academic groups, private industry, government and more to foster this holistic approach to cybersecurity.

One example is the Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cybersecurity Program has been implemented in partnership with the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The goal for this endeavor is to “reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise for the nation.” In addition, the CAE program supports the President’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). NICE surrounds the notion of building a digital nation with the goal of “broadening the pool of skilled workers capable of supporting a cyber-secure nation” (nsa.gov).

Cybersecurity, an integral function of the intelligence community,  has become and will remain a top priority of our nation, particularly with the advancement of technology and subsequent sophistication of attacks. There is an increasing demand for a skilled workforce that is qualified to meet our security needs going forward. Organizations across the globe, big and small, are focusing on the creation of additional jobs in the cyber arena, thereby increasing hiring for cybersecurity professionals; protection of information systems and critical networks are a top priority for everyone. Staffing these jobs can mean the difference between success and failure for these organizations. Partnerships with the organizations mentioned above, and specifically the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), foster a strong workforce positioned for success. DHS is able to provide tools, resources and the education required for a sustainable, cyber focused workforce. Personnel can then be trained to meet demands, fill gaps, and more effectively match to defined roles and responsibilities. In addition to talent, retention is also a critical component for organizational success. DHS and many other agencies are actively working with their personnel on retention and bonus programs to ensure a stellar workforce.

DHS offers a cybersecurity workforce tool as a resource for other organizations striving to achieve world class protection. First, identifying and quantifying your current personnel, will promote strategic planning and development in critical areas; gaps will be closed. Understanding the needs of the organization, both present and future, along with the needs of your personnel will ensure the professional development programs are provided while organizational goals are achieved. A robust hiring program will complement existing pool of qualified personnel and an even more robust education and training awareness program will lend itself to continued security protection. Finally, developing key talents….establishing skill enhancement and training opportunities will attract and retain qualified personnel (USCERT.gov)

Meeting the needs for future cyber challenges won’t be easy. However, with proper focus, planning and preparation, we can posture ourselves for a chance at a better. With the myriad of partnerships, information sharing and collaboration opportunities organizations have at their fingertips, as well as the knowledge, skills and expertise of others, they can work together, easily to reduce risk, and protect networks and critical infrastructure.


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About The Author

Dr. Donna Day is a Manager at the Department of Defense, where she has been for more than 30 years. With a background in Information Assurance, Customer Engagement and Marketing, more recently she has been studying Cyber security Policy and Management at the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC). She earned her Doctor of Management, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science Degree in Technology Management at UMUC and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing at the University of Baltimore. Dr. Day is also an Adjunct Professor at Norwich University in Vermont, where she teaches Cyber security, Critical Infrastructure and Information Assurance courses to a myriad of students, worldwide, from across the intelligence community. A published author, Baltimore Ravens fan, and life-long learner, she enjoys writing, traveling, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with her family and friends.