Making cybersecurity work, one state at a time, starting with Virginia
- As Virginia becomes home to a sprawling network of cybersecurity companies, connecting native talent to the economy is crucial. The state is working to foster communication between private industry and colleges and universities to connect cybersecurity talent to jobs, according to Gov. Ralph Northam, D-VA, speaking at a Raytheon event in Northern Virginia Tuesday.
- This communication is one of the most important things states can do to bolster cybersecurity, along with protecting critical infrastructure, said Michael Daly, CTO of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon, during a Q&A at the event.
- While government is finally partnering with infrastructure domains to share threat information, state officials also need to ensure that businesses know what supply chains — and thereby what threat networks — they are a part of.
Virginia is no stranger to cybersecurity. Home to Data Center Alley, a technology corridor in Ashburn with the largest concentration of data centers in the world, and the "Cyber Corridor," a collection of cybersecurity companies that stretches across Northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland, the Commonwealth is steadily cementing its place as a top technology hub.
In September 2017, the state had 70,700 cybersecurity workers with openings for more than 33,400 more. Filling the pipeline can be difficult, and the state is looking to populations such as veterans to help get the job done. Women and millennials are expected to also play an important role in closing the gap.
To keep a state at the competitive edge of the best place to do business, training workers for the jobs of the future is imperative. These jobs are in STEAMH (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and healthcare), and cybersecurity is at the top, according to Northam.
With the millennial generation coming into the workforce, it is critical for young technology workers to ask questions and approach security holistically, tying it into issues such as climate change, Northam said, speaking to students from the University of Virginia in attendance who won the 2018 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Championship.
Although it is now a top priority, the word "cyber" was never even mentioned in the Director of National Intelligence's worldwide threat report until 2008, according to David Wajsgras, company VP and president of Intelligence, Information and Services at Raytheon, speaking at the event. With such a recent focus, the utility and benefits of cyber are still nascent, he said.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the date for the first mention of "cyber" in the worldwide threat report was misidentified. The first mention took place in 2008.
Follow Alex Hickey on Twitter