How To Grow Your Cyber Expertise During A Pandemic

By Bradley Hayes, Chief Technology Officer at Circadence

IT pros can still learn new skills despite perceived barriers to progressing professionally during the pandemic. While working circumstances and environmental factors have changed in our world and most people are working and learning remote, a professional’s ability to learn is the one thing we can be certain about right now. And, let’s face it, now it’s more important than ever for cyber pros to be up-to-date on cybersecurity skills since so many people are encountering increasing amounts of cyber risks while working remotely. Even with the shift to remote work, IT pros can stay connected to the industry and continue advancing their skills with professional IT/cyber groups, online training, cyber games, and more. Here are a few ways cyber professionals and cyber newcomers can continue to grow their careers and expertise during this pandemic.

Build cyber skills with hands-on, online training

It’s more vital than ever for cyber professionals to get the training they need to learn about new threats and protect company assets. From safeguarding a remote workforce to protecting sensitive online data, cyber professionals have a lot to do, but need to be highly trained to know how to do it. Distance learning has been a massive shift for many students, and even for those who are ‘students of the business’ learning and training virtually certainly requires a different mindset. Luckily, new emerging training platforms are making it easy and fun for cyber professionals to learn new skills from anywhere at a pace that works for them. Circadence’s Project Ares gamified training platform allows learners to build skills via engaging and personalized hands-on methods. Using gamification and intelligent tutoring AI, learners participate in a realistic, interactive curriculum of foundational and specialized scenarios in the form of battle rooms and missions, addressing real, current cyber threats across multiple industries, providing a comprehensive level of knowledge and practical experience. In a gamified cyberlearning environment, cyber professionals are:

  • rewarded for completing tasks and objectives
  • incentivized to learn new skills persistently
  • encouraged to dialogue and learn together with peers
  • reminded of what they don’t yet know and held accountably
  • engaged in their progress through scores and leaderboards

Gamified training is not only a viable solution that will impact today’s defenders, but it will truly change how cyber professionals learn and intellectualize a new skill.

Network with cyber experts online

Cyber professionals are in high demand right now. According to a report from cybersecurity nonprofit (ISC)2 there are currently about 2.8 million cybersecurity professionals around the world, but that workforce would need to grow by roughly 145% to meet the global demand for digital security expertise. Since cyber careers are in high demand, it’s important for cyber professionals to network and put themselves out there…online. A few ways professionals can use the digital connection to learn are:

Another way to show off skills and knowledge is with a platform like Project Ares, which maintains leaderboards and badges of accomplishments. This is a great way to attract a potential employer by demonstrating skills and expertise.

Connect with formal cyber organizations

There are also organizations that offer online networking events and educational webinars. For example, NICE/NIST and ISSA are highly reputable outlets to get connected to additional resources and cyber education. Many companies also offer live and on-demand webinars on current trending cyber topics. Here are a few as an example: Kickstarting a Cyber Career and Learning Happens Better with Games.

Cyber competitions and hackathons are also great ways to connect. Cyber competitions expose contestants to a real-life cyber-attack or threat, making them think quickly under tight deadlines to defend against it and protect their team’s assets. This is a great way for a cyber professional or newcomer to practice one’s skillset, engage with others in the community, and engage in some friendly competition! Cyber competitions positively impact a cyber professional or cyber newcomer’s experience to the industry by supporting new emerging technologies, engaging in environments for learners to demonstrate their abilities, and providing an opportunity for recruitment.

Gain real-world experience during the pandemic

Since there is such a strong need for cyber professionals right now, another way to advance your career or get noticed would be to offer up your expertise via a service to inspect a company’s remote workforce to ensure they are taking basic safety precautions during the pandemic. Since many companies do not have adequate cybersecurity support, your cyber intelligence and service might be simultaneously beneficial to a company in need and lead to a potential job or continued contract work with that company. More than likely, if you have a skill set in cyber, there is someone out there that needs your help.

In times like these, it can be easy to forget the importance of growing and advancing a career. Dramatic changes to how we work to make it even more important to continue to train and learn to be that much more prepared for potential cyber threats. It’s important for all of us to continue to take part in being cyber-safe personally and professionally, but also to do our part in keeping the companies we work for and the broader economy safe from the increasing prevalence of costly cyber-attacks.

About the Author

Bradley Hayes AuthorBradley Hayes, Chief Technology Officer at Circadence

With decades of professional experience, Dr. Hayes’ expertise in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning supports continual innovation for Circadence’s cyber readiness solutions Hayes teachers as a professor at the University of Colorado’s Department of Computer Science and serves as the Director of the Collaborative AI and Robotics (CAIRO) Lab. He has in-depth experience developing techniques to build autonomous AI that can learn from and collaborate with humans, making people more efficient and capable during task execution.

August 6, 2020

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