Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

11/12/2018
04:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Veterans Find New Roles in Enterprise Cybersecurity

Facebook and Synack create programs to educate vets and grow employment opportunities while shrinking the cybersecurity talent gap.

Could America's defenders find new roles in enterprise defense? It seems they could be, based on new programs designed to bring veterans into the cybersecurity workforce.

Facebook and Synack have both created initiatives to train vets in security skills and help prepare them for employment opportunities in the field. Initiatives such as these have the twofold benefit of training veterans for sustainable careers and bridging the security talent gap.

More than 65% of veterans experience difficulty in transitioning out of active duty, says former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson, who also serves as an adviser to the Synack Veterans Cyber Program. The process requires a series of adjustments, USC researchers report: geographic location, careers, relationships, support systems, communities, and cultures.

Facebook, which is currently in the second round of its Cybersecurity University for Veterans, and Synack, which is launching its program now, both aim to make this process easier.

"I was apprehensive at first, not knowing the extent of what I was expected to do," says Jonathan Killinger, who completed Facebook's program and now works as a production engineer for the company. "The second I got there and connected with other students in the class, mostly vets, I instantly knew this was the place to be."

Facebook launched Cybersecurity University for Veterans in 2017, in partnership with several universities, and recently graduated its first class. The program initially received over 1,500 inquiries and started with a class of 45 veterans, 33 of whom completed the course. Facebook's goal is to teach the fundamentals of cybersecurity to veterans with technical backgrounds.

"It was a wide range [of experience]," says program manager Stephanie Siteman. "A lot had experience in the military doing IT jobs, technical jobs." Some were in school, majoring in computer science, while others were currently working in tech and wanted to bridge the gap.

The course educates veterans on a range of security topics through a combination of sessions, videos, projects, and labs. Students complete both a weekly lab in-person and a weekly assignment, which takes the form of Capture the Flag for weeks 1-5 and pen testing and research for weeks 7-10. Week 6 focuses on vulnerabilities and exploits related to user authentication. A capstone CTF in weeks 11-12 tests their knowledge from the course.

"The course is quite lengthy and in-depth," says Siteman, adding the students meet once a week for the 12 weeks. "It takes an average of 120 to 150 hours to complete … by no means it is an easy course."

Facebook ultimately hired three of the veterans from its inaugural program, including Killinger, who gained his IT experience in active duty as a cyber operations technician in the Air Force. The program, he says, taught him about an industry and roles he didn't know existed. While his current role isn't security-specific, he says it has been helpful to add infosec skills.

"I've definitely been able to translate the skills I've learned here," he says.

For the second round, Siteman says Facebook is adding more guidance with next steps to help its graduates enter the workforce. This includes scholarships to conferences like Def Con and Black Hat, which was attended by 19 veterans this past August, she adds.

The Synack Veterans Cyber Program is built on the idea that crowdsourcing veterans' expertise can help them, their employers, and national security. Co-founder and CEO Jay Kaplan says the program has two phases: one helps train veterans who have been exposed to cybersecurity but need to develop their ethical hacking skill set, and another provides veterans with a security background a means of accelerating their job applications for the Synack Red Team.

"It's helping find ways for the veterans leaving government service to utilize their skills, especially those with experience in cybersecurity, which many of them [have]," says Kaplan.

One of the key tenets of the program is to help veterans transition from government duty to the private sector, explains Anne-Marie Witt, director of product marketing and head of government programs. Synack kicked off its program launch with veteran recruitment events at San Jose State University and a talk at Operation Code in Washington, DC.

Applicants for full-time roles undergo a five-step process to assess their skills and trust, Witt says. "We're looking for researchers and ethical hackers who are top caliber and highly trustworthy," she notes. However, they don't need a security background to apply for training.

Kaplan explains how Synack is working with federal agencies to evaluate applicants who come on board. Former military members, who often have security clearance, are ideal, as are former government employees with experience performing red team operations. But employees coming from development or other computer engineering backgrounds have a strong foundation to transition into the world of white-hat hacking, he says.

"Generally speaking, the good thing is if you have cyber experience, your transition to the private sector is much easier," he adds. "Because our researcher community is 100% freelance, you can apply and get through processing in a few weeks, and you're making money as soon as you're on board."

Related Content:

 

 

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
shanjasper
50%
50%
shanjasper,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2018 | 5:49:22 AM
good
Fantastic blog. This is excellent work from you, my friend. This is exceptional work! I just do not have enough words to describe this amazing
jabeatty
50%
50%
jabeatty,
User Rank: Strategist
11/16/2018 | 2:23:10 PM
Re: Link
This should do the trick:  https://www.synack.com/veterans/
jrpolan
100%
0%
jrpolan,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2018 | 6:59:05 AM
Great topic
With the dearth of cybersecurity professionals out there and technology frontiers growing daily, former military personnel are a great source of new weapons. As a vet myself, I can say they are highly-trainable, responsible, diligent and focused problem-solvers. 
Ratteau
50%
50%
Ratteau,
User Rank: Strategist
11/13/2018 | 11:20:27 AM
Link
Do you have a link to the Synack course for more information?  Cant find it at their corporate site.
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-36289
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-12
Affected versions of Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center allow an unauthenticated user to enumerate users via an Information Disclosure vulnerability in the QueryComponentRendererValue!Default.jspa endpoint. The affected versions are before version 8.5.13, from version 8.6.0 before 8.13.5, and fro...
CVE-2021-32606
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
In the Linux kernel 5.11 through 5.12.2, isotp_setsockopt in net/can/isotp.c allows privilege escalation to root by leveraging a use-after-free. (This does not affect earlier versions that lack CAN ISOTP SF_BROADCAST support.)
CVE-2021-3504
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in the hivex library in versions before 1.3.20. It is caused due to a lack of bounds check within the hivex_open function. An attacker could input a specially crafted Windows Registry (hive) file which would cause hivex to read memory beyond its normal bounds or cause the program to...
CVE-2021-20309
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11 and before 6.9.12, where a division by zero in WaveImage() of MagickCore/visual-effects.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file submitted to an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from this vulnerability is to ...
CVE-2021-20310
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11, where a division by zero ConvertXYZToJzazbz() of MagickCore/colorspace.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file that is submitted by an attacker and processed by an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from this...