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Military veterans in private cybersecurity professions
Military personnel are always faced with a difficult decision when deciding whether or not to leave a life to which they have often given everything for decades. There are many important questions that need to be answered as they already had an education and / or profession before entering military service, which they do not.
What kind of work would they be better suited for initially? Many soldiers go into law enforcement or other forms of civil service. While it seems like the next logical step, there are a multitude of other options. Of course, which options are best for a particular retired soldier will depend on that person's skills, experience, judgment, personality, and preferences.
Fortunately, there are many resources available on the internet to assist veterans return to civilian life. The prospect of being competitive for vacancies - especially the number of positions that need to be filled compared to the number of applicants available to fill those positions - is a key factor in the potential career calculation.
One of the most, if not most understaffed, industries today is information security, or cybersecurity.
According to the InfoSec Institute, there are almost 3 million cybersecurity experts worldwide, including around 500,000 in North America alone. In almost all disciplines under the umbrella of information security, the demand for skilled workers far exceeds the supply. And the problem will only get worse when the potential demand for information security services skyrockets.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken the cloak of developing a cybersecurity workforce by introducing young Americans, especially active military personnel and veterans, to the field. The Veterans Cybersecurity Training and Education Guide is designed to provide students interested in cybersecurity with a better understanding of the sector.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) offers free online cybersecurity training. Another DHS program, the National Cybersecurity Careers and Studies Initiative (NICCS), aims to “provide educators with the tools they need to enable students to be part of the digitally educated cybersecurity workforce to become". DHS has partnered with Hire our Heroes to provide cybersecurity training for veterans using Skillsoft and Percipio.
Why Private Sector Veterans Are So Well Prepared for Cybersecurity
More and more employers are turning to retired veterans to fill the growing number of information security vacancies. What is the reason for that? There are several explanations for this. Some argue that veterans feel a sense of stability as they adjust to protecting their employers' networks and digital information in cyberspace because they are familiar with the concept of contributing their lives to defend their country.
Cybersecurity employers see the same traits in veterans as so many others: discipline, commitment, and team spirit.
Today's armed forces use some of the most technologically advanced digital structures in the world. Military information systems and networks are without a doubt the most targeted high quality asset in the world. As a result, all active duty members who have worked directly with these systems, particularly to defend them against attacks, are well equipped for the cybersecurity work of the private sector.
With a little education and / or training and the receipt of cybersecurity certifications, these veterans are often in high demand from private sector companies.
Many military roles, whether or not specifically related to military cybersecurity, require security clearances. While most private businesses don't require security clearance, the fact that a veteran has been entrusted with state secrets by the military speaks volumes to the person's character and reliability. In fact, many cybersecurity jobs, especially in government agencies and contractors, require security clearing. It is certainly much easier to promote a qualified veteran who already has a top secret license than to promote a civilian and ask the government for a high-level security clearance. Over the past several years, the average waiting time for a US government to issue a security clearance has been about a year and a half. And that assumes that there are no problems along the way.
In addition, many military roles require a thorough understanding of computers, digital information networks, communication systems, cryptography, digital surveillance and espionage, and even information security.
Obviously, these military jobs provide an excellent foundation for a veteran to quickly and easily transition into cybersecurity employment in the private sector.
GoArmy.com provides working titles and brief explanations of military vacancies for current and new military personnel. You can find many who work in the field of information and technology here. Some of the specific cybersecurity roles that would make a great stepping stone to a veteran's career in the private sector include:
- Cyber network defender
- Cryptological linguist
- Information technology specialist
- Cyber operations specialist
- Cyber Operations Officer
- Cryptological cyberspace message collector / analyst
- Cyber and Electronics War Officer
- Electronic warfare specialist
There are several other military professions that have excellent cybersecurity expertise, but these are the ones that are most directly relevant.
Worked in defense functions for government agencies as a private individual
While working in the private sector is more attractive and generally more lucrative than working for defense-related government agencies, staying in the public sector should not be fully discounted. There are many lucrative career opportunities available to veterans who continue to work to defend their country against external threats. A national security clearance would undoubtedly be an important carrot for business recruitment. The most obvious and foremost need for cybersecurity personnel with high security clearances is with the CIA, FBI, ATF, Homeland Security, CISA (Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency), Secret Service, and NSA.
The list doesn't end there, however. Almost every government operation in the world today can be viewed as a trap for unethical hackers. Many of these departments don't seem like obvious places to look for important or top secret information, but they can act as channels for accessing the networks of other agencies dealing with highly sensitive data. As a result, security reviews are required in many areas of government.
Transition from boots to books
The symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) are well documented, so there is nothing else to say here. But it's not the only problem veterans face. For veterans who wish to adapt, years of living in a completely different community and social system compared to society as a whole are a number of challenges. When you add the unique environment and requirements of higher education, it's easy to see how the transition from military to college life can leave some veterans confused and unprepared.
If you've ever taken a few years off school and then came back; For example, from a bachelor's degree to work and then back to school for a master's degree, you know how difficult it is to get back in the flow of things. Even relatively simple tasks, such as remembering basic math or writing skills, can be difficult to recognize when you return to campus. Most veterans enter the military with a high school diploma, but going to college after leaving the military is a completely alien experience to them. However, tools are available to help veterinarians prepare for college and make the most of their opportunities.
Again, there is support for veterans transitioning from military service to college. California started a program in 2007 called Boots to Books. Beginning in August 2018, the course will focus on developing the skills necessary for college success, as well as helping student veterans transition their combat skills to career building. It is offered at 20 community colleges in California. This August 24, 2018 report in the Military Times details how veteran Nathan Kemnitz used the Boot to Books program to help navigate the difficult transition from military service to private education.
Developing study skills is a great idea for any veteran entering college. The Community for Accredited Online Schools' Student Guide to Improving Learning Skills is a great introduction for all students, not just veterans. OASC (Online Academic Skills Course) and CPST (College Placement Skills Training) also have an e-book on Peterson's titled "College Success Tips for Adult Learners" and another titled "MCAST - Your Military Career Advancement Success Tips" Publishing provided.
Campus support for veterans
Veterans retreat into a variety of privately-provided programs, benefits, and financial assistance, not to mention public worship. All types of organizations have coined the word "military friendly" to describe the special care they provide to veterans. While the veracity of these statements is often questioned, the phenomenon has significantly increased the resources available to veterans today.
After their military service, many agencies go to great lengths to help veterans adapt and contribute members of society. Many sites have programs in place to help veterans settle into their new life, especially those looking to attend college. Most of these programs offer financial assistance, but many now offer a range of resources to help veterans adapt to campus life.
As a result, when looking for schools, veterans can consider which non-financial aid is eligible. Here are some examples:
- Military Experience Credit - Allows students to earn credit toward military training and / or a profession.
- Textbooks and materials are provided free of charge.
- Counselors committed to helping veterans adapt to college life issues
- Aid groups for veterans
- Help organizations in the community
Financial support for veterans for professional education and training
Finances are also a significant barrier for veterans looking to start a new life and career in the private sector. Since the military is not known for their generous pay, it is difficult to save money while serving your nation. Fortunately, there are a variety of funding options for veterans who are training and preparing to embark on a new career.
Veterans Administration (VA) funding through the GI bill is possibly the most critical of these outlets. Benefits under the GI bill are largely dependent on length of service and the length of time that has elapsed after September 11, 2001. It also depends on whether the school you plan to attend is on the VA's list of approved schools.
The VA offers an online application called the GI Bill Comparison Tool to better control these factors. It is designed to assess a veteran's eligibility using multiple variable inputs. The VA also offers a PDF guide that explains how veterans can choose the right school for them.
In layman's terms, VA-approved schools determine how much tuition and accommodation a veteran can do without up to 50%, and the VA is that amount. In an ideal world, the combination covers all educational costs as well as living space.
Some colleges, on the other hand, forego less than half of the total, allowing veterans to cover the remainder with scholarships or other forms of financial support, or out-of-pocket payouts.
Long before student loans become mandatory, there are a variety of other possible sources of help if the GI bill does not provide enough financial support. Financial support is available to students in almost all schools. A large part of this comes from private donations, with the donor providing a large part of these funds for specific communities.
Today there is immediate financial support for military personnel and veterans.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides a guide for all students to help them sort through all of the available details and options for grants such as student loans and grants evaluation.
A variety of high-tech companies are now explicitly offering scholarships to cybersecurity students. Cisco, Raytheon, Google and Microsoft are among them. Cisco offers tens of millions of dollars in grants to students pursuing careers in cybersecurity. In addition, the organization has developed its own CCNA Cyber Ops certification.
There are also a number of websites devoted to assisting students in finding available scholarships that are relevant to their needs. There are some of the websites:
The US Navy's Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) provides funding to assist students in obtaining cybersecurity education and building an information assurance education infrastructure. Scholarships for students outside the Department of Defense, students of the Department of Defense, and school scholarships are also part of the program.
Training and education opportunities for veterans
After deciding to leave the military, the veteran must decide which occupation better suits their skills, experience, and personality. Military.com provides a guide to help transition veterans see how their military experience is translating into civilian employment opportunities. After you've decided on a career path, you need to figure out what additional training and preparation, if any, is needed before you start looking for a job. There are many options for veteran education and training, many of which are free or heavily discounted.
The Military Times magazine publishes a list of the Best for Vets Colleges for continuing education each year. Colleges are divided into four categories: four-year, two-year, online and nontraditional, and professional and technical colleges. For active military and veterans alike, online schools can be a suitable option. They have the versatility it takes to fit into a busy life that makes typical college difficult to go to.
Virginia has partnered with a number of organizations to launch a pilot initiative to help veterans transition to cybersecurity employment in the private sector. CISCO and Amazon are among the members of the alliance, which also includes Fortinet and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.Those looking to start their cybersecurity careers in Virginia should take advantage of this Cyber Veterans Initiative, which offers free training and access to industry-recognized certifications.
"Cybrary is a free community that brings individuals, businesses and training courses together to empower everyone to work together in open source ways that are revolutionizing the cybersecurity educational experience," the website says. Cybrary offers free study guides for a variety of cybersecurity disciplines in line with its free, open source philosophy. There is also a catalog of courses covering a range of cybersecurity topics.
Microsoft's MSSA (Microsoft Software and Systems Academy) also offers a cybersecurity management program for veterans, as well as training for the SSCP Certification Exam (ISC) 2® Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP).
In 2018 Synack unveiled its Veterans Cyber Program, which includes human intelligence and artificial intelligence to provide security solutions. The program is structured to help veterans transition to effective careers in cybersecurity. Veterans are recruited by Synack as part of this initiative and receive “accelerated application review for access to the Synack Red Team (Synack's elite group of ethical hackers), flexible and lucrative opportunities for security testing via the Synack platform, annual networking events, and cybersecurity skills training opportunities and access to exciting business and government opportunities. "
CyberVetsUSA is an "industry-led program that provides free training and employment opportunities to transition members, veterans, National Guard and Reservists, and military spouses interested in joining the cyber workforce." Job pipeline aimed at getting veterans into high-demand cyber jobs ”. It started out serving North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, but plans to expand to more states in the near future. It offers online self-paced training programs that last 12-14 weeks. Veterans can choose from a variety of courses depending on their skills and experience. The following six options are currently available:
- Cybersecurity operations
- Security infrastructure
- Software development
- Operation / technical support
- Security management
- Network security
Founded in 1989, the SANS Institute is the world's largest provider of training and certification for information security. It offers over 400 multi-day courses in 90 countries around the world as well as a variety of GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification) certifications.
In the age of the Internet, the active duty military doesn't have to wait to retire to begin their college trip.
There are many online colleges these days, and many of them offer cybersecurity courses and degrees. If a soldier is looking to prepare for civilian life early or increase his military worth, it is best to check out online degree programs.
Students have much greater versatility for online degree programs than for their stationary counterparts. This is especially true for classes that are "asynchronous". Synchronous classes take place in real time at a set time, with the student having to follow the timetable in the same way as a student on a real campus. Students enroll and attend courses on their own time for asynchronous courses. Discussion forums, texts, interactive presentations and podcasts are available through this distribution method 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Asynchronous classwork could be the ideal way to advance cybersecurity education, especially for active duty military personnel.
Assistance to veterans transitioning from military service to the private sector
There are many services available to veterans just starting their civil careers.
VeteranSec is an online group of military veterans working in or involved in cybersecurity and information technology. Right now they have a private network forum, free training videos, and a cybersecurity blog with tutorials.
Fortinet, a provider of cybersecurity products and services, enables veterans to pursue careers in cybersecurity through its FortiVet program, launched in 2013. The aim of the program is to "enable exceptional military veterans to transition into the cybersecurity industry by providing skilled networking, training and mentoring".
In 2017, the FortiVet program was included in an article in the ITSP newsletter. The "FortiVet program helps veterans of all skill levels gain access to cybersecurity-related jobs that are otherwise difficult to access," the report said. The article also features case studies of veterans who have used FortiVet to help them transition from their military careers to cybersecurity careers. The Military Times magazine named Fortinet Best for Vets Employer in 2019. The list of Best for Vets Employers for 2019 is divided into two categories: nonprofits and government and nonprofit organizations.
From the military to cybersecurity
While the transition from military to civilian life can be difficult, the good news is that there are a multitude of options available, especially for veterans interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity.
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