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Digital Security

Expanding the Cybersecurity Workforce

Michael O. Tjebben

Founding Member and Director, Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Institute

COVID-19 has been a threat to more than just health. The pandemic has also led to heightened cybersecurity threats as people shelter, work, and socialize from home, relying on the internet more than ever to stay connected. 

While the internet has been a vital tool keeping crucial relationships between individuals, businesses, and governments intact, the more time spent online, the more opportunities there are for cybercrime. Malicious actors may take advantage of virtual connections to  steal information and money, hold data for ransom, deny service, and wreak havoc.

The world was already experiencing a shortage of cybersecurity experts to counter these threats, and the pandemic only exacerbates this problem. 

Addressing the shortage

Globally, there is a vital need to expand the cybersecurity workforce. Networking events — such as the annual cybersecurity conference hosted by the Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Institute (SVCSI) — build interest in cybersecurity and allow diverse professionals to make connections and learn from one another. Social connections can also help ease feelings of intimidation around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.  

The event included keynotes, research presentations, a career panel, and blockchain and network security hackathons where participants competed for prizes. Global academic and industry leaders presented the latest research and innovations, while fun and educational activities helped generate excitement in cybersecurity as a career path.  

As several career panelists have pointed out, cybersecurity professionals come from diverse professional backgrounds, from psychology to law to advertising to self-taught enthusiasts. Careers include everything from complicated cryptographic math to public education, advertisements, and policy.

Learning and working together

We have faced many threats recently, including COVID-19 and the associated economic and cybersecurity challenges.  Fortunately, by learning and working together, we can overcome such threats and challenges and better prepare ourselves for the future.  

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