Diversity in Cybersecurity [Weekly Cybersecurity Brief]

Cybersecurity is an industry defined by its constant state of evolution. A large part of that is based on the ever-changing nature of technology. But at its core, cybersecurity is still centered around the people that drive it. And the more diverse companies’ teams are, the more variety in perspective they’ll have to meet the demand of that constantly moving path that the industry is on. This week’s Cybersecurity Brief gathers some of the latest efforts to expand the cybersecurity talent pool.

In a recent post for MarketScreener, the point was made that, when broken down, cybersecurity is already a diverse field considering that the people who make up its workforce come from a number of different professional backgrounds. For instance, LinkedIn’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Geoff Belknap graduated college with a business degree. During an interview with “Security Unlocked,” Belknap recommended taking advantage of that quality and opening up the concept of who a cybersecurity expert is. This is especially important as the industry grows. Instead of looking for the perfect candidate, which would be difficult to do since many of these positions are still fairly new, Belknap said that companies should look for people with “raw skills” that can be developed over time.

The Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub and Aspen Digital also recently outlined recommendations for widening the cybersecurity industry. In a report detailing the outcome of two meetings conducted over the past year with people from fields such as cybersecurity, government, academia and nonprofits, the Aspen Institute stated that, “The field remains remarkably homogeneous, both among technical practitioners and policy thinkers, and there are few model programs or initiatives that have demonstrated real progress in building diverse and inclusive teams.” According to The Hill, the report also concluded that “It is estimated that only 4% of cybersecurity workers self-identify as Hispanic, 9% as Black, and 24% as women.” To change this trajectory, suggestions included re-examining hiring practices, building out stronger mentorship programs and amplifying education opportunities among others.  

Organizations have started introducing such initiatives. For example, following the meeting held at the White House last month, IBM committed to training 150,000 diverse individuals in cybersecurity skills over the next three years. Pace University also announced that its Seidenberg School of CSIS was awarded a $3.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation in an effort to further its cybersecurity education program. As Pace reported, it will use the grant to “expand its existing CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) program that trains scholars at all levels for careers in government focusing on cybersecurity, cyber defense, and related operations that are currently in great demand.” Additionally, the money will go toward increasing diversity within cohorts, particularly underrepresented communities like women and minorities. The grant provides the opportunity for the school to offer more scholarships, workshops, competitions, and conferences that encourage engagement within the field.

 

Key Takeaways:

“Microsoft: Why diversity is important for a strong cybersecurity team” – MarketScreener

https://www.marketscreener.com/quote/stock/MICROSOFT-CORPORATION-4835/news/Microsoft-Why-diversity-is-important-for-a-strong-cybersecurity-team-36397321/

  • During an interview with “Security Unlocked,” LinkedIn’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Geoff Belknap recommended opening up the concept of who a cybersecurity expert is.
  • Expanding the perspective on candidates is particularly important as the industry is projected to continue growing.
  • Instead of looking for the perfect candidate Belknap said that companies should look for people with “raw skills” that can be developed over time.

“Report pushes for changes to diversify ‘homogenous’ US cybersecurity workforce” – Maggie Miller, The Hill

https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/571523-report-pushes-for-immediate-action-to-diversify-homogenous-us

  • The Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub and Aspen Digital recently outlined recommendations for widening the cybersecurity industry.
  • In a report detailing the outcome of two meetings conducted over the past year with people from fields such as cybersecurity, government, academia and nonprofits, the Aspen Institute stated that, “The field remains remarkably homogeneous, both among technical practitioners and policy thinkers, and there are few model programs or initiatives that have demonstrated real progress in building diverse and inclusive teams.”
  • To change this trajectory, suggestions included re-examining hiring practices, building out stronger mentorship programs and amplifying education opportunities among others.   

“Pace University Awarded $3.8m Cybersecurity Grant From The National Science Foundation” – Pace University

https://www.pace.edu/news/pace-university-awarded-38m-cybersecurity-grant-national-science-foundation

  • Pace University announced that its Seidenberg School of CSIS was awarded a $3.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation in an effort to further its cybersecurity education program.
  • As Pace reported, it will use the grant to “expand its existing CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) program that trains scholars at all levels for careers in government focusing on cybersecurity, cyber defense, and related operations that are currently in great demand.”
  • Additionally, the money will go toward increasing diversity within cohorts, particularly underrepresented communities like women and minorities.
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