Monday, October 23, 2017
Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing industry, yet it faces a shortage of future employees. In fact, in the next five years, the cybersecurity industry projects it will have a scarcity of 1.8 million workers. This issue is one reason why National Security Month, celebrated each October, is raising awareness around the importance of pursuing a career in cybersecurity. We spoke with Gary Ramah, Fuel Board Member and Lead Network Security Architect at the Walt Disney Company, to get a better perspective on what first interested him in cybersecurity, and why others should enter the profession.
Fuel HQ: How did you first become interested in cybersecurity?
Gary Ramah: I was hired as an Electronic Security Alarm technician, working at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Once I become knowledgeable in my technician role I was approached by the engineering group to help design and deploy security door control systems. These were single board computers where we programmed a home-grown operation system to support multitasking environments using machine code. This detailed level of exposure to the inner working of computing systems piqued my interest in learning more about cybersecurity.
Fuel HQ: What are your current responsibilities at the Walt Disney Company and what do you love most about working there?
Ramah: I spend my days architecting network-based security systems that include firewalls, access control systems, and intrusion-prevention systems. Disney is a large environment and the best part of my job is when I get a chance to work on international projects with folks from all over the world.
Fuel HQ: According to a study by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, by 2022, there will be a shortage of 1.8 million information security workers. Why do you think this is?
Ramah: The industry as a whole is expanding at a tremendous rate. At the same time, the number of people entering into STEM programs in college seems to not be keeping pace with the industry. I’m not sure how this will play out in 2022 but I expect that the day-to-day activities of most cybersecurity professionals will change dramatically by then. Hopefully, these changes will attract the new talent that is needed to fill these roles.
Fuel HQ: What do you think can be done to encourage more women and minorities to pursue careers in cybersecurity?
Ramah: The best way to attract new talent to cybersecurity is to market this profession as an inclusive environment that people want to work in. Nobody wants to work in an environment that isn’t fun and exciting. It’s just that most people view cybersecurity as challenging not rewarding. This needs to change.
Fuel HQ: What advice do you have for people trying to get a job in cybersecurity?
Ramah: Cybersecurity entails several top-level categories like: Policy, Risk Management, Audit, Investigation, Network Security, Application Security, Data Security, Messaging Security, Malware Research, and Mobile Device Security. Try to find situations where you can learn one specific cybersecurity area at a time, maybe by volunteering with a group that has a focused area of interest.
Fuel HQ: You have worked in the public sector, started your own companies, and now are working in the private sector. Is having such a wide range of experiences something you recommend to others considering a career in cybersecurity?
Ramah: Yes, working too long in the same company, industry, or vocation is never a good idea. Inbreeding ideas doesn’t help you grow, nor does it help the company/group you work for. That is why universities very rarely hire professors that have earned their degree at that university.
Fuel HQ: How has being a Fuel member helped you develop professionally?
Ramah: The interactions I’ve had with other Fuel members have allowed me to view the issues I encounter every day with new eyes. Sometime we’ve seen issues repeatedly crop up, and if you don’t bring a new tool to the task every now and then, you are simply not able to grow.
Why did you choose a career in cybersecurity? What advice would you give to those considering a career in the field or just starting out?