Author name
Jennifer Agor, Assistant Director, Duke Career Center

You’ve probably heard the term “cybersecurity” and feel like you understand what that means.  As the world becomes more and more technical and interconnected (think Internet of Things) there is a greater need for protection and security with our private information, corporate data and research than ever before.  There’s also a need for workers in that space.

I recently attended a Triangle Tech Panel at NC State titled “Decode Cybersecurity” where information technology and cybersecurity experts from SAS, EY, NC State and the FBI discussed a multitude of topics around the issues of cybersecurity. 
**Let me put in a reminder and plug here to utilize and capitalize on the opportunities which exist at other area universities!

While there were a ton of interesting topics discussed, most notably I felt that two things were applicable to Duke students, both in computer science and technology fields and outside of them (although come on…don’t click that random link in that unknown email, change your passwords regularly and don’t complain about multifactor authorization!).

The most obvious was what students who are looking to enter the field of cybersecurity can do to be marketable for the field.  Panelists mentioned showing interest and passion—being knowledgeable and interested in the trends and research in the field of cybersecurity, studying concepts and technical pieces required and showing you’ve been paying attention.  You don’t need a specific certification in the field—there is currently a huge gap in the need for workers and the availability of interested parties.  You also don’t have to have a technical background.  “A problem can’t be solved by the same type of mind which created the problem”…therefore psychologists can examine the behavioral aspects of security threats, while accountants and finance backgrounds can trace the money trail to investigate who is behind an attack on cybersecurity.  Diversity in thought and approach to the problem of cyberattack is a main focus on solving the problem.

Secondly, there are multiple options for researching and exploring the field of cybersecurity:
Conferences which are cheap or free (and many universities have ways of sponsoring or supporting travel)—DerbyCon, InfoSeCon—which may also support mentorships.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers a plethora of articles and opportunities to explore digital security. 

Network, network, network and find out what opportunities exist.  Even working on products to try to find a back door in to their system can make you marketable—after all, who better to protect against a hacker than someone who can work in the same way?

Did you know?

  • There is no regulation on privacy and security for most products associated with the Internet of Things?  While the FBI panelist could not discuss specific cases, she did mention that hackers can infiltrate (and HAVE) through your smart slow cooker or refrigerator!  Keep in mind, the more connected your life is, the more points of entry there are to gain your personal and private information.
  • While biometrics (retinal scans, fingerprints and facial recognition technology) might be more secure than remembering a bunch of passwords, it might be more problematic when compromised…how do you then change or replace your identifiable information? In addition, facial recognition software doesn’t always recognize black or female faces.
  • Women only represent 12-15% of the cybersecurity workforce.