Veterans and the cybersecurity gap

Vets need jobs. Everybody needs cyber-specialists. And situational awareness could be the thread to connect the two.

Vets in the workforce

An increasing number of training programs are betting on the common thread of situational awareness to link combat veterans with a wide range of cybersecurity careers.

Multiple academic and business institutions have in recent months conducted training for veterans with a federal demand for cybersecurity staff in mind. The training programs come in the broader context of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's call for U.S. Cyber Command to have more than 6,000 staff by 2016.

Many of those "cyber warriors," however, will be highly trained specialists who are not necessarily the benchmark of programs that aim to shorten the time for veterans from deployment to employment.

By contrast, NS2 Serves -- a three-month course backed by SAP National Security Services, an independent subsidiary of software giant SAP -- works with veterans whose highest level of education might be a high school diploma.

"There are a lot of discussions out there across the nation about veteran hiring programs, but matching a veteran and their skillsets to some of the organizations that want them has been a challenge," said retired Vice Adm. Joseph Kernan, a former Navy Seal who helps run NS2 Serves.

To narrow the parameters of demand for federal IT skills and the influx of soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan, Kernan said his organization drew on a Labor Department database of roughly a million veterans' résumés. NS2 Serves eventually chose 17 veterans for an inaugural training class in software and supply chain management.

The group graduated May 13. "The program doesn't succeed, in our minds, unless every single veteran gets hired," Kernan said. Some of the graduates are looking to work for defense agencies or contractors, he added.

The nonprofit arm of the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2, has also worked with a corporate heavyweight to match veterans with IT jobs.

(ISC)2 Foundation and partner Booz Allen Hamilton recently solicited applications for an annual scholarship that helps returning veterans get information-security certifications. The U.S.A. Cyber Warrior Scholarship requires more of an IT foundation than NS2 Serves. (ISC)2 Foundation Director Julie Peeler said the program targets those who used IT in the military but have yet to earn an information-security certification.

(ISC)2 noticed that many of last year's applicants came from the Army Signal Corps and the group worked to recruit applicants from similar units of other services, she said. (ISC)2 gave out six Cyber Warrior scholarships last year and expects to award 10-14 this year.

Getting the word out

For some wanting to boost the ranks of veterans working in cybersecurity, there is insufficient awareness of the opportunities available.

Maria Horton, a service-disabled veteran and former CIO of what is now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, said her cybersecurity firm, EmeSec, has hired several veterans in recent months. But others seem to be missing the boat.

"Even when they are aware that there are opportunities in the IT digital world or even cybersecurity... they don't understand it from a translation standpoint -- what does that mean to me and how do I take advantage of it?" she said.

The need to rapidly process information for security decisions is what otherwise-incongruous scenarios on the streets of Fallujah and a dark computer room have in common. Veterans looking to join the IT workforce "need to know that their skillset isn't necessarily artillery or making rounds, but situational awareness, the ability to learn on their feet in a dynamic situation, the ability to respond," Horton said. "Those are great qualifications for information assurance and cybersecurity."

Matt Noyes, an Iraq War veteran and cybersecurity specialist at the Department of Homeland Security, agreed that veterans could be made more aware of IT opportunities.

After returning from a second tour in Iraq in 2010, Noyes went to Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government for his master's degree. He noticed a theme in the appearances of defense officials at events on campus: The government was hiring cybersecurity experts. Though cybersecurity had not been "remotely on [his] radar" when he began his graduate studies, Noyes decided to heed the top brass' call and dedicate himself to the field.

For a government and a defense industry trying to churn out cyber warriors, recruiting IT-savvy veterans and training those with fewer tech skills could prove to be two sides of the same coin.

Note: This article was updated on May 20 to clarify that NS2 Serves is backed by SAP NS2. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.