ICS Cyber Convergence

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Recently, cybersecurity firm Darktrace announced an $18 million investment to hire new information security specialists in an effort to expand globally. According to Upstart Business Journal this investment represents a cash infusion in a woman-led cybersecurity company with a history of hiring female IT specialists. The result of this major infusion, according to the online journal, could “pave the way for a more equally representative industry.”

I have been a vocal advocate of increasing the presence of women and minorities within the cybersecurity industry throughout my career. Resources are scarce within this industry and the opportunity to tap within a market as robust, hard-working and well-educated as women and minorities highlights the potential to solve this huge resource challenge.

More importantly, cybersecurity is in large part about intelligence gathering and ingenuity. These two features blossom from a diverse infrastructure made up of varied backgrounds, educations, and cultures. It is my humble opinion that together as a heterogeneous workforce we are better equipped to solve the future challenges that APTs and hackers present.

In an industry like cybersecurity where only 11 percent of the information security workforce is female, there is plenty of room to grow. According to Virginia-based non-profit Women's Society of Cyberjutsu, 25 percent in the tech sector are women. The fact that only 11 percent are in cybersecurity presents a golden opportunity to grow this industry aggressively to meet the demands of future resources.

Make a Difference in Cybersecurity

One question that I commonly get asked in cybersecurity is, “how can we make a difference in cybersecurity and against cyber threats?” Supporting the education and hiring of women and minorities in cybersecurity is often my answer.

By flooding this sector with these groups of talented individuals, we can take larger strides as a society to bring better awareness of cyber-related issues such as insider threats, phishing campaigns, viruses, malware campaigns and denial of service attacks. All these issues require as much communication, awareness and training as we can provide. The dialog for supporting and advertising the education and hiring of women and minorities brings these cyber threats to the forefront in America, not only at the water coolers and coffee machines at work, but at the dinner tables at home, which is where this awareness of cybersecurity really needs to happen.

A common follow-up question to my answer is often “how can we make a difference in the education and hiring of women and minorities in cybersecurity?” The simplest answer is get involved.

Attend events like the National Women in Cybersecurity Conference (WiCyS) that took place in Atlanta, GA earlier this year. You can also become a member of their online community Women in Cybersecurity – WiCyS.

Another way to get involved is by working with your local high schools and universities to get cybersecurity further engrained with women and minorities in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Match) conversation. By vocally participating within these and other initiatives, you can make a big difference in thwarting the effects of cyber attacks while creating more opportunities for women and minorities within the cybersecurity field.

Angela Heise is President of the Civil Group at Leidos. In this capacity, she is responsible for providing solutions to US Cabinet-level civil agencies and major elements of the public sector across the globe. Focus areas include energy and the environment, utilities, manufacturing and industrial, federal infrastructure, air traffic management, exploration and mission support, cybersecurity and information technology. Prior to this role, Heise served as vice president of Commercial Markets for Lockheed Martin-Commercial Cyber, where she was responsible for delivery of a portfolio of cybersecurity and information technology solutions and services to commercial Global 1000 customers. Heise graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in computer science. She was recognized in 2012 as Aviation Week’s Top 40 under 40 and in 2013 was one of Federal Computing Week’s Top 100 Executives.