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There are everyday warriors in businesses across the country, but these individuals may never have worn the uniform of their country. This next generation of cyber warriors is being groomed by organizations of all sizes in an attempt to overcome the growing skills gap in the cybersecurity world. While many current cybersecurity analysts started in general IT, there are individuals throughout the business and technology world that are moving towards this lucrative career path. Unfortunately, there are few set career paths already in place and no firm list of skills to develop to move in this direction. See what Under Armour’s VP & CISO, Matt Dunlop, is doing to arm the next generation of cyber warriors that he knows his organization desperately needs.
One of the key reasons that Matt Dunlop sees the value of developing these skill sets is because he’s worked throughout the fields of mathematics and computer engineering since his time in the U.S. Army as a colonel. After starting as a network engineer, he further developed his skills by completing a master’s degree in computer engineering and ultimately a doctorate in a related field. When the U.S. Army Cyber Command was created, he was a logical choice to help stand up this new division — partially due to his status as a computer science educator at West Point. In his position as CISO with Under Armour, he’s able to bring together his passion for teaching and marry it with his deep knowledge of technology and cybersecurity. “As we look into the future and project this huge job shortage, companies are looking for the silver bullet,” says Dunlop. “But I look at it as a long game.”
Cybersecurity is an ever-changing landscape and one that doesn’t have a set career path or an endpoint. Dunlap is currently working with the National Cyber Education Program to help create a generation of students that are interested in the exciting field of cybersecurity. There is a major deficit of individuals who have the breadth and depth of knowledge that would allow them to effectively provide cybersecurity protection for an organization. Sparking the interest of the next generation of smart workers is crucial, especially as automation takes the place of low-level activities and leaves plenty of room available for strategists and individuals who are able to implement more complex — and therefore more challenging — environments. Historically, cybersecurity professionals begin as entry-level IT professionals and work their way through the ranks to ensure that they gain the necessary knowledge about infrastructure and integrations to help protect an organization from both malicious actors and internal business challenges.
As cloud-based applications gain prominence in today’s business world, cybersecurity professionals will need a better understanding of data and integrations as well as hardware and servers. Transitioning from general IT to cybersecurity requires in-depth knowledge of how and where weak points can occur in an organization’s security net. From next-generation firewalls to strategies for warding off malware and phishing attacks, there are integration details that require recognition of how data flows throughout your business — and beyond. Pulling together information from disparate cloud-based platforms leaves a fail point that needs to be monitored, especially when you consider the proliferation of third-party vendors in the business ecosystem. Each link in the chain that passes data between organizations and customers must be analyzed and monitored for compliance and security throughout the sales and manufacturing cycle.
Arming the next generation of cyber warriors starts with firing the imagination of generations of children and young adults as they enter the formative years of their education. Cybersecurity is an exciting career path and one that will continue to morph as threats emerge. Encouraging staff members to become lifelong learners is one of the shorter-term ways that Dunlop encourages individuals to enter the cybersecurity field, but he is the first one to recognize that we need a broader group of future professionals to enter this critical field and support the security of businesses in the future.