CyberWatch West Holds Successful Industry Event at Regis University

Representatives of cybersecurity-related businesses, government agencies, and higher education met at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, on May 25 to attend a dinner and panel discussion organized by CyberWatch West.

Facilitating the event were Dr. Dan Manson, CyberWatch West’s co-PI for student development, and Dan Likarish, director of the Regis University Center on Information Assurance Studies.

They directed questions about Colorado’s need for a skilled cybersecurity workforce to a discussion panel that included representatives of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Denver Chapter of ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), and Westminster-based cybersecurity firm Coalfire Systems.

Colorado has one of the highest concentrations of cybersecurity jobs per capita in the nation, according to the Burning Glass Technologies report Job Market Intelligence: Cybersecurity Jobs, 2015. Like the other leading states—Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland—Colorado has a high concentration of jobs in the federal government and related contractors. Recently the Colorado legislature approved spending $8 million to renovate a former Colorado Springs manufacturing plant to house a new public/private partnership called the National Cybersecurity Intelligence Center.

The discussion at the CyberWatch West event explored what Colorado employers would like to see in the cybersecurity workforce. Among the answers were familiarity with virtual machines and open source capabilities; coding skills; knowledge of application program interfaces (APIs); and network and bandwidth management.

Much of the conversation focused on gaps in the state’s educational system regarding cybersecurity. Participants commented on the need for not just business people but the general public to understand the importance of cybersecurity, and for there to be clearer communication with non-technical bystanders. A better understanding of cloud computing is necessary for effective risk management as use of this technology becomes more prevalent, they said.

The group also pointed out areas in which academia is moving in the right direction, like introducing the basics of cybersecurity to students at a younger age, and enabling college students to collaborate with K–12 learners. They praised outreach events that connect with female students (CyberGirlz workshops, for example) and support of the CyberPatriot student competitions.

“This event really helped us share ideas and discussions as well as collaborate with peers on how important cybersecurity is these days and how we can further its growth through our vast educational systems in Colorado,” said Likarish, who is also an assistant professor at Regis. “We look forward to meeting again in September and seeing how far we’ve come and the additional efforts we need to pursue. People were excited to continue these discussions.”

Regis University is a private Jesuit university in Denver; a member of CyberWatch West, it’s one of seven four-year institutions in Colorado that have been designated a Center of Academic Excellence in information assurance/cybersecurity by the National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security.