Colorado company trains in-demand cybersecurity pros

Global Business

Many countries around the world face a severe shortage of cybersecurity experts.

With computer hacks and breaches on the rise, there are too few people working in the sector, to keep groups and businesses safe.

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports on one program, that aims to fill the gap.

Taree Reardon is a senior threat analyst at the cyber-security company Carbon Black. She helps detect suspicious computer behavior and prevent malicious files from infecting companies and organizations.

“There’s something that makes me excited to come to work every single day knowing that I can help stop an attacker,” Reardon said. The problem is there aren’t nearly enough Tarees doing this kind of work.

“We’re adding jobs faster than we’re able to fill them which is just creating this widening gap,” said Bret Fund, Founder and CEO of SecureSet, an academy dedicated to training cyber-security professionals and helping fill that labor gap.

According to the website CyberSeek, there are currently more than half a million cyber-security jobs open in the U.S. “It’s a big problem, globally as well as locally,” Fund said.

He said data breaches of businesses are on the upswing these days and that hackers, often criminal enterprises or state actors, are managing to stay one step ahead of cyber experts.

“So as we’re evolving, they’re evolving, as they’re evolving, we’re evolving,” Fund said.

He said the breaches at retail chains Target and Home Depot in 2013 and 2014 convinced many companies to beef up their security. His 12-week program for future analysts and 20 weeks for engineers teaches students how to falsify computer certificates and carry out service attacks, among other skills.

“Our philosophy, the way we approach it, is in order for them to defend against hackers, we have to help them think like hackers,” Fund said. “Looking at data, who’s in our network, how do I identify people in our network? And then working with engineers to figure out how to shut them out of the network.”

He said many of his students are career changers who are looking to reinvent themselves. Like Bobby Ceniceros, a data analyst.

“It’s a whole new world coming from something where you’re just looking at datasets,” Ceniceros said. “It’s like a new language to me.”

Student Joanne Puchek has a background in psychology and behavioral analysis.

“I’ve always been a problem solver,” Puchek said. “I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. I enjoy mysteries. Once I solve them, that to me is fulfilling.” Fund considers them modern-day crime fighters. He doubts the cyber-security labor shortage will be fixed soon.

“Not immediately,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

“It’s scary when you think about how many organizations are understaffed and under-protected,” Reardon said.

She said it’s hard to pinpoint people who will be good at this kind of work.

“I think that a lot of people get into this industry thinking that it’s easy money and it’s really hard work as well,” Reardon said. But rewarding, she added, and hugely important, given today’s cyber environment.