The Cybersecurity Threat No One Talks About
And now a bit of encouraging news from the job market: The cybersecurity sector is booming, and they need talent, stat.
The good news comes with a bit of a twist, however. This particular corner of the tech world is even less diverse than the general tech sector, with women making up only 10% of the cybersecurity workforce, and Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans making up only 12% combined. But Shamla Naidoo, IBM’s Chief Information Security Officer, is determined to change that.
It’s an industry that lends itself to diversity. “We know that this field is evolving so quickly, that each individual cannot know what it’s going to take to fight the next threat,” says Naidoo.
And she’s on the hot seat: Her job is to protect all of IBM’s digital assets from any threat, internal or external, and to support a rapidly changing array of functions that extend far beyond traditional engineering, into every business unit and strategy decision. Think about the internet of things, an exciting future in which everything – from shoes and shirts to medical devices and weapons – can be cyberized. “The cybersecurity industry is looking at as many as 1.5 million open and unfilled positions by 2020,” she says. “We want a fully integrated workforce that is inclusive of people with a diversity of thought and backgrounds. It’s a mutual benefit.”
IBM recently co-hosted a conference with the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP) where Naidoo and colleagues from places like the NSA and payroll firm ADP, discussed how to find and support qualified, diverse candidates. “There is a concerted effort to cast a wide net,” she says. “It’s not uncommon to have open positions for a year before we can fill them. If I find a candidate that brings me the right aptitude, right attitude and right kind of thinking, I am overly excited to hire them without any kind of bias.”
Naidoo herself looks for talent within IBM’s many intern programs. For bigger assignments, she seeks out subject matter experts who bring deep knowledge of their fields. “I can teach you what you need to know about security,” she says. But she needs candidates who can demonstrate that they can learn new skills.
To that end, part of her job is to help people learn to think in non-traditional ways, which diverse teams tend to do for each member when they work well together. Naidoo amplifies this effect with a development technique that other firms could adopt to help diverse teams succeed. “We create small, agile teams of ten or fewer people that are pretty self-directed. They stay together over time, but the work changes constantly.” The teams are carefully curated so that all the skills they need are built into the group, but not within any one person. With each new project, some people will find they’re the experts, and others will become the novices.
“Over time as they evolve, everyone learns skills they didn’t have before,” she says. And that’s where personality is revealed. In addition to curiosity and creativity, she’s specifically looking for people who are self-reflective. “You have to be able to look in the rear view mirror at the product you created and be willing to identify and fix what didn’t work,” she says.
It’s a technique that systematizes learning and collaboration, but also fortitude. “We are looking for people who can solve the problems that don’t exist yet,” she says. “And you can’t be fearful.” In cybersecurity, the bad guys only have to be right once to claim success. “But the good guys have to be right every single time.”
|Poll: Race relations are worse under Obama|
|A new CNN poll shows that Americans are more concerned about race than they’ve been in the past. Some 54% of Americans say that relations between black and white people have gotten worse since Obama became president. A similar number says that the criminal justice system favors whites over blacks, and the number of people who describe discrimination against black people is a problem at an all-time high of 42%. The poll also breaks down responses by race.|
|Issa Rae, the first black woman with an HBO show, is ready for primetime|
|This is a terrific profile of Issa Rae, whose new show, Insecure, is poised to become a break-out hit. The show follows a character, loosely based on herself, navigating young adulthood in LA. The Stanford-educated writer, producer, and performer has been building up to this moment her own young adult life, working on the web and collaborating with other creatives of color. “How hard is it to portray a three-dimensional woman of color on television or film?” she asked in a 2015 book that helped inform the show.|
|New York Magazine|
|Michelle Alexander wins the Heinz Award for her work on mass incarceration|
|The Heinz Award is a $250,000 prize given for work that shifts public thinking on an important issue, though, in Alexander’s case, it took a while. She released her critically-acclaimed book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in 2010. But it wasn’t until the execution of Troy Davis in 2011, which highlighted the disparity in treatment for black and white inmates, that conversations about mass incarceration began to happen. A must-read interview on how she’d fix the criminal justice system.|
|Ava DuVernay’s new documentary takes on the prison system|
|If you want to hear more from Michelle Alexander, you’re about to get your chance. Ava DuVernay’s incendiary documentary, 13th, debuts on Netflix today. Named after the 13th constitutional amendment which abolished slavery except as “punishment for crime,” the film uses archival footage and expert commentary from Alexander and others to show that slavery didn’t disappear, but evolved into mass incarceration. It was the first non-fiction film to open the NY Film Festival in 54 years.|
|A school pep rally turns out the white supremacists|
|A Montana high school holds an annual homecoming rally called “Color Wars." Each class participates in friendly competition wearing similar colors – green for first years, blue for sophomores, white for juniors and black for seniors. Fun, right? Two juniors showed up for the white team in homemade “Trump White Pride” regalia, and now this beleaguered community in rural Montana is in the national news. Go team?|
|Why black workers who do everything right still get left behind|
|Because they make less money than their white counterparts. Data show that the wage gap between black and white workers is at an all-time high. But the most surprising finding is for which segment of workers the gap is increasing the fastest: employees with more education. College was once believed to be the best way to address wage inequity. No more.|
The Woke Leader
|Stop it with the employee satisfaction surveys already|
|Leadership blogger Ted Bauer has a strongly-worded message about annual employee satisfaction surveys: They’re a “checkbox” that companies hide behind, they don’t measure anything, and they discourage people from doing the one thing they should do to lead effectively, which is to talk to each other. “Real human growth comes from connection, feedback, discussion, priority-setting, etc.,” he says.|
|The Context of Things|
|Being online and Jewish in the age of Holocaust trolls|
|Reporter Marisa Kabas has written a devastating essay on what happened to her when she responded to a story tweeted by a reporter friend about Holocaust deniers at a Trump rally; she simply noted a quick fact about the more than six million people who were killed by Hitler’s Nazi forces. The backlash was horrific, and straight from the anti-semitic playbook, which is “rooted in Nazi Germany propaganda: poking fun at hook noses, showing bags of money, depicting people with their heads shoved in ovens,” she explains. But amplified by social media, it got much, much worse.|
|#YouGoodMan highlights black male mental health|
|When hip-hop artist Kid Cudi shared online that he was retreating from public life to address his anxiety and depression, a compassionate hashtag was born. “#YouGoodMan is for Black Men to confess, ask for help, vent, or get pointed in the direction of mental health professionals,” tweeted Dayna Lynn Nuckolls. And they did. According to health officials, black people are 10% more likely to report having serious psychological issues than white people, and the stigma attached to these issues are profound.|