ISJ Exclusive: The new face of cybersecurity


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Professor Neil Curtis of DXC Technology outlines the benefits of military veteran intern programs in the cybersecurity field for business and government.

In today’s world, where personal and organisational information is increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, cybersecurity is a pressing concern. Businesses and government agencies are looking for new and innovative ways to build a robust cybersecurity workforce in response to the growing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals. Using the unique skillset of security-cleared and vetted military veterans is one solution that has proven to be effective.

Military veterans bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the cybersecurity field, allowing businesses and government agencies to improve their cybersecurity posture and protect themselves from potential threats.

This can result in a better cybersecurity posture, increased efficiency and productivity and enhanced threat protection for everyone involved. On the other hand, it re-engages our military veterans in the battlespace for which they have been trained and are proficient. They succeed even in chaotic environments, within high stress incident situations and at times of ambiguity.

A unique skillset

When I think of intern and graduate programs, I immediately think of inexperienced junior staff with little real world experience and a lack of baseline skills and applicability. These inexperienced resources typically necessitate close monitoring and attention and can become a burden on staff, team leaders and management.

Graduates arrive with a degree but have limited practical industry experience, security certifications or sometimes technical skill. There is a clear lack of capability in both the cybersecurity landscape in terms of soft skills such as leadership, initiative and, on occasion, an understanding of work in the business environment.

Military veteran internship programs are designed to bring highly skilled and experienced veterans into your organisation. Veterans bring a distinct set of skills, including a strong work ethic, a disciplined approach to problem solving, along with excellent communication and leadership abilities. Veterans possess advanced technical training and proficient operations of technical systems and it’s these characteristics which are extremely valuable in the cybersecurity field, where the ability to collaborate and work efficiently is critical.

With veterans, maturity levels are much higher, as is the ability to deal effectively in stressful and ambiguous situations; this makes them an excellent choice for your workforce. Furthermore, military veterans have experience in risk management and decision making, which is essential for effective cybersecurity practices. They can assess potential threats quickly and take decisive action to mitigate them, providing businesses and government agencies with increased security and protection.

Improved diversity and inclusivity

Diversity and inclusivity are essential components of a strong cybersecurity workforce because they enable the representation of various perspectives and experiences. Military veterans also bring a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to the cybersecurity field, which can help them better understand the needs and requirements of various stakeholders.

Diversity, equity and inclusion principles have been adopted and are practiced in today’s military. Our military forces are extremely diverse and it makes sense to incorporate this proven diversity into your business. The presence of military veterans in intern programs also contributes to a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all participants, resulting in improved collaboration and teamwork as well as improved communication and understanding among team members.

Increased efficiency and productivity

The presence of military veterans in internship programs increases the efficiency and productivity of cybersecurity teams as they are able to bring a high level of focus and dedication to their work due to their strong work ethic.

Military continuation training programs can be easily integrated into your military interns’ training regimens and can be tactical as well as strategic. It has been demonstrated that military veterans are more trainable than their civilian counterparts and gain proficiency in shorter timeframes, allowing technological changes to be more effectively adopted in less time. This increased vigilance and security awareness can help businesses and government agencies respond to potential threats more quickly and effectively.

Preparing and developing a military veterans intern program

Including military veterans in your business requires more than just hiring and putting them to work. You and your company will need help developing your veterans program to get the most out of it. To realise the potential of the intern program you are developing, you will need to invest in a best practice framework specifically for veterans which provides information, direction and resources. This will include mechanisms such as:

  • Creating a veteran cultural program to help businesses better understand military veterans
  • Veteran community support model
  • Reporting framework for training and success
  • Mentoring program that supports goals and helps them make sense of their new environment
  • Training program to improve technical and non-technical skillsets in the business space
  • Programs would be designed to help veterans transition into business and civilian life

Remarkably, there are 70% of military veterans under-employed. Within three years, 36% of those 70% are promoted to senior positions in their organisation – executive and director roles – not just team leaders or managers.

By participating in internship programs, military veterans can assist businesses and government agencies in improving their cybersecurity posture and protection from potential threats. Consider the advantages that military veterans could bring to your organisation especially if you want to build a strong and effective cybersecurity workforce.

For military veterans, consider participating in an intern program with a business or government agency if you are interested in a career in cybersecurity. You can use your skills and experience to make a real difference in the fight against cyber-threats if you get the right training and support. Veterans continue to have a lot to offer businesses and government organisations.

We encourage you to implement a military veterans intern program in your organisation today and take the first step towards building a stronger, more diverse and, more importantly, an effective cybersecurity workforce.

This article was originally published in the March 2023 edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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