Industry, Government Sound the Call for Skilled Cyber Security Workforce

September 19, 2013

New York, N.Y. (September 20, 2013) – Experts from the security industry, government, and academia who gathered at New York Institute of Technology’s (NYIT’s) annual cyber security conference yesterday shared insights and perspectives across the cyber security spectrum, but two common themes emerged: the pressing need for a skilled and innovative cyber security work force, and the imperative to focus on incorporating security in the earliest phases of design.

“We’re looking at security the same way we did 10 years ago, focusing on detection rather than protection,” said Michel Cusin, of Cusin Securite Inc. in Quebec. Gary McGraw, Ph.D., chief technology officer of Cigital Inc., reinforced this point in his afternoon keynote address by noting the focus should be on engineering. “We have to build secure systems in the first place,” he said.

Several speakers focused on the protection of individuals and organizations against cyber attacks by calling for greater collaboration and information sharing. Debora Plunkett (pictured top right), director, Information Assurance, National Security Agency, said that collaboration was one of the ways to achieve acceptable levels of confidence in cyber space, calling for the adoption of common standards for usable mechanisms to share information. Another way Plunkett referenced to achieve an acceptable level of confidence is to “produce a growing number of professionals with expertise to meet evolving cyber security challenges.”

The conference was the fourth annual gathering of experts convened by NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences to help spur productive dialogue on critical issues to raise awareness and contribute to finding solutions.  “Ever since universities began in the late Middle Ages, they have brought well-informed people together. We are continuing that tradition, but on issues more urgent than anything known back then,” said NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., in remarks to open the conference.

In presenting on Cyber Security Education for the next Generation – Emerging Best Practices, Marisa S. Viveros, vice president for Cyber Security Innovation at IBM, noted that the skills needed to help manage heightened security risks are difficult to find. Contributing factors to help solve this include training more qualified faculty, who in turn can educate more cyber security professionals, as well as conducting theoretical or applied research to establish a pipeline of industry professionals, educators, and inventors of new solutions. Additionally, given the lack of cyber security expertise in most countries, Viveros suggested that U.S. universities take the lead in sharing information and consider “adopting” universities worldwide to collaborate and spur innovation.

Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., Dean of NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, opened the conference by reaffirming the university’s commitment to “prepare our students to be cyber security savvy and to be innovators in their own right.” Also, for the first time, a “Cyber Career Panel” was added to the conference agenda to help introduce high school students and their parents to careers and opportunities in the field.

NYIT offers a concentration in Internet Security for computer science and information technology majors in addition to a master’s program in Information, Network, and Computer Security, taught by faculty that have been awarded prestigious research grants in biometrics, swarm intelligence, cryptography, mobile, and cyber security. It was noted during the conference that NYIT will begin to offer a Master of Science in Information, Network, and Computer Security at NYIT-Vancouver, a program that has been offered to students in New York and on other NYIT campuses for nearly a decade. Additionally, NYIT’s Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science has been recently approved by the Ministry of Education in Beijing, China.