Future Cyber Security Army Needs More Than Just Programmers

Think the future of cyber security relies solely on computer programmers? Wrong.

Securing financial information, personal data and proprietary plans along government, corporate and personal networks will require filling the growing demand for skilled cyber security professionals with a diverse pipeline of talent, including consulting, communications and risk management, Heather Engel, Executive Vice President of Sera-Brynn, told Vice President Joe Biden in a roundtable discussion earlier this month at Norfolk State University.

Sera-Brynn was the only Hampton Roads-based business invited to participate in discussions with the closed-door panel, which included Biden, the Virginia Governor and members of President Obama's cabinet.

“It’s time to change the conversation and help students and employers recognize that cyber security jobs aren’t only for programmers,” Engel said.“Cyber security is not just an IT problem, and businesses need talent across the organization with a variety of skills.Partnerships with schools, internship programs, work study and mentoring will shape the workforce, give hands-on experience and help students build connections that are vital for securing jobs.”

The discussion with Biden followed his announcement of a $25 million grant to support cyber security education.

“As the only certified cyber security audit firm in North America partnered with a large financial institution, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to this discussion,” Engel said.“We offer an end-to-end approach to managing cyber risk through compliance, insurance and incident response.&rdquo

“Technology alone has its limitations,”said Rob Hegedus, Sera-Brynn’s chief executive officer.“Our holistic approach to cyber risk management provides the most comprehensive protection for businesses of all sizes.”

And, it’s experience in seeing how a holistic approach can effectively manage the cyber risk of networks that gives Engel and Sera-Brynn firsthand knowledge of the need to have a diverse workforce battling the cyber security needs of the future.

"This industry requires critical thinking, questioning, and experimentation," Engel said. "Our adversaries are working with free downloads and a laptop.”

"But there’s good news,” she continued. “Having worked in this industry for more than 15 years, we see a need for students from all backgrounds and interests. Not all of those people will have a computer science background."

The answer? Engel calls on industry and educational institutions to start partnering now for the future.

"These partnerships will provide students with hands-on experience and help them build connections that are vital for securing a job," Engel said. "If they can earn credits through internships and graduate with less debt, so much the better. To change the conversation, we need to start early and diversify the talent pipeline."

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