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The worst kept secret in the US cybersecurity industry is that there are not enough skilled cybersecurity workers to sustain the industry’s rapid growth over the next decade.
More than 700,000 cybersecurity positions remained unfilled as of last year, and that number is expected to grow as the demand for security grows around the world in virtually every business sector. Historically, the problem has been exacerbated by a lack of advocacy for cybersecurity as an accessible and learnable skill, but this month’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme, “See Yourself in Cyber,” seems to have focused on the problem. And as a veteran who entered the cybersecurity industry straight from the Air Force, I think it’s time my colleagues amplified the opportunities that veterans wondering where to take their career can get in the cybersecurity industry.
The relationship between veterans and the cybersecurity workforce in the United States can be symbiotic, with each group mutually benefiting. Just as the cybersecurity industry comes to terms with the talent shortage, the New York Times reported in 2020 that military veterans are 37% more likely to be underemployed than non-veterans, making the math of employing veterans in the cyber security industry work in every way. favour.
But of course it’s never as simple as giving people jobs. Speaking from experience, it can be confusing and unfamiliar to enter the private sector after having previously served only your country. An active duty officer in the Air Force for six years before joining the private cybersecurity industry, I had never focused on business risk, assessed the financial costs of achieving a goal, or spent time in a private office . Within the military, the hierarchy of titles and teamwork are standardized, so adjusting to working alongside colleagues of all ages and experience levels was a new experience for me.
Cybersecurity veterans: training and learning are essential
That’s just a small sample of the growing pains I had to overcome in my first job outside the military, but every veteran has their own struggles that end their commitment to their country. That’s why it’s critical that cyber companies prioritize programs like Skillbridge, a Department of Defense program that sponsors internships and pre-apprenticeship opportunities for veterans in cyber and other types of career fields, alongside their regular hiring rounds. Veterans looking to get their foot in the door can also benefit from networking on LinkedIn and at in-person events with cyber professionals, as well as keeping up with the most powerful news in the industry. Taking advantage of free cyber learning programs like LinkedIn Learning can also be an advantage when exploring the cybersecurity job market.
But unfortunately, there is no single solution to smooth the transition from the military to the private sector. The most common reasons I hear veterans give regarding their fear of joining the private sector are lack of knowledge about job opportunities and lack of certifications or cyber experience.
Both of these factors could be remedied with more targeted awareness campaigns, as well as more education aimed at service members to help them understand why they are likely already fit to work in cybersecurity, regardless of their experience or background with technology. The cybersecurity industry could also more consistently share private-sector benefits—better pay, work-life balance, and career advancement opportunities—to entice former service members to take on the security challenge. cybernetics.
The military trains people to be adaptable and change roles often with ease, as well as how to be comfortable in the unknown. Military members, like cybersecurity analysts, rarely have all the information and tools at their disposal to operate in an academic fashion. As a result, they typically have experience bridging resource gaps and have a strong work ethic, both qualities that are very helpful to cyber security professionals. The military early implemented the concept of a Security Operations Center for 24-hour cybersecurity monitoring, and a successful private sector SOC involves all team members understanding their mission and playing their role. These skills are second nature to service members.
The combination of all those similarities adds up to cybersecurity, then, for most veterans to feel like they can continue to serve, just defending the public in a different way than they’re used to. Preserving that sense of duty by keeping the public safe from online attacks is a fantastic career progression for veterans, and it’s time to let them know.
Mark Manglicmot is Senior Vice President of Security Services at Arctic Wolf.
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