How Women Are Poised To Impact Cybersecurity

Debbie Fletcher

News from the murky world of cybersecurity seems to keep getting worse. From alleged election-related hackings to massive data breaches to DDoS attacks now capable of crippling some of the biggest websites on the Internet, the present is bleak, and the future appears to be even more daunting. However, there could be a new weapon emerging against cyberattacks of all types, and it’s not software patches or firewalls or new security protocols. It’s manpower, or to be more specific, womanpower.

A gap that needs closing

Like many STEM fields, cybersecurity has traditionally been underrepresented by women. In fact, a 2016 study from the Center of Cyber Safety and Education found that women make up just 10% of the global cybersecurity workforce – a percentage that, disappointingly, hasn’t increased since the Center’s 2014 study on the same subject.

If any industry is currently crying out for an influx of talent, though, it’s cybersecurity. Data breaches hit an all-time high in 2016 with 1,093 in the United States alone, a 40% increase from 2015’s 780. The business sector and healthcare industry were the hardest hit. Furthermore, while record-breaking DDoS attacks like the one on Dyn made headlines for taking websites like Twitter and PayPal offline, dealing with these devastating attacks has been a reality for businesses and websites of all sizes for years. With DDoS-for-hire services gaining popularity and DDoS botnets gaining size thanks to IoT devices, the problem is only getting worse.

This is undoubtedly bad news for businesses, governments, and the Internet at large, but it’s great news for a demographic in search of high-paying jobs.

Cybersecurity shortcomings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by Peninsula Press, an initiative of the journalism program at Stanford University, in 2016 saw more than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs unfilled in the United States alone, with postings in that industry increasing 74% over the last five years. A 2015 study from Cisco estimated there were one million cybersecurity job openings around the world, a number that Michael Brown, CEO of Symantec, expects to grow to six million by 2019. Brown also projects that a full 1.5 million of those jobs will go unfilled.

With this dearth of skilled cybersecurity workers, it’s no surprise that leading companies all over the globe are looking to the half of the population that has historically been underrepresented in cybersecurity.

Emerging opportunities

Increasing gender diversity in cybersecurity isn’t just a numbers game. A 2014 analysis by the National Center for Women and Information Technology looked at 2,360 global companies and found that gender-balanced companies performed better financially, particularly when women held a significant number of top management positions. Gender-balanced companies also demonstrated superior productivity and team dynamics.

To help fill the gap in cybersecurity, companies and even cybersecurity defense contractors such as Raytheon have launched aggressive recruitment initiatives aimed at women. Post-secondary educational institutions are joining in as well, with private women’s colleges like Bay Path offering degrees in information security, stressing the leadership, problem solving, analytics, and communications skills necessary for careers in this industry.

Public colleges and universities are also focusing efforts on getting women into information technology and cybersecurity programs. Brigham Young University, for example, appeals to the large population of Mormon women that make up its student body by presenting cybersecurity as an option for women who want to pursue a career while also embracing the traditional homemaking values prized by the Mormon faith.

Words from leading women

As much as the cybersecurity industry needs to focus on recruiting women, many women are already working as leaders in the industry. Internet security firm Imperva Incapsula recently compiled a list of the top 50 women in Internet security, including their advice on getting into the industry and what can be done to attract women to it.

For instance, international cyber attorney Christina Ayiotis recommends a long-term approach to attracting women to STEM careers such as Internet security, saying companies need to commit to building the pipeline and processes that address retention. “Women need long-term career progression support from those who have the power to put them in available leadership roles, including at the Board level,” she said.

For women and students looking to distinguish themselves in security, Tumblr security engineer Aloria recommends being proactive to demonstrate passion for the field. She says this can include sharing small tools or scripts, participating in CTFs, and writing blogs.

The battle against cyber attacks of all types is only going to intensify in the future, and women in cybersecurity may very well be a major part of the solution. It will take a concerted effort from women, educational institutions, and companies combined, but with women getting involved in internet security and other STEM fields, the war on cybercrime might just be winnable.

For more on gender equality in the tech industry, see Girls In Tech: From One Event To A Global Movement.

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About Debbie Fletcher

Debbie Fletcher is an enthusiastic, experienced writer who has written for a range of different magazines and news publications over the years. Graduating from City University London specializing in English Literature, Debbie has a passion for writing has since grown. She loves anything and everything technology, and exploring different cultures across the world. She’s currently looking towards starting her Masters in Comparative Literature in the next few years.

How Governments And Industry Respond To Digital Risk

Andre Smith

The rush to digitalization around the world has come with a great amount of risk. The risk has been shared by private industry and governments alike, as news of data breaches and hacker attacks have made global headlines. Sometimes, simple misconfigurations have led to embarrassing and potentially privacy-compromising incidents. In other instances, specifically directed cyber attacks have exposed the personal data of millions of people.

Anytime data security issues such as these occur, the potential consequences are massive. This is true not only for the business or government at fault, but also for everyone whose data has been stolen. This year has produced some of the largest data security incidents to date, and all signs point to that trend continuing. This has left governments examining the steps necessary to create a safer and more secure digital environment going forward. It is also forcing businesses to review their digital risk-management strategies.

Regulatory responses

The high-profile nature of many of the latest data breaches has led to renewed regulatory scrutiny by governments around the world. In the U.S., there have been Congressional hearings in the wake of the Equifax hack, which exposed the financial information of 145.5 million American consumers. So far, it’s unclear if the hearings will lead to a new round of data-security regulations, but there’s already proposed legislation that would set standards and penalties for businesses regarding customer notification of data security breaches.

The European Union, by contrast, has been far more forward-thinking and decisive. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), set to be implemented by May 2018, has created a framework of legal responsibilities for data security and enumerated rights for individuals regarding personal data collection and storage. The new regulation joins others that already set standards for European (and multinational) financial institutions regarding transparency and digital compliance reporting.

Businesses begin to adapt

In the business world, there is a universal need to update compliance and governance policies and to invest in digital security infrastructure. Most companies have been producing large volumes of digital data for many years, but few have the staff or expertise necessary to manage and secure all of it. Fortunately, the latest Big Data platforms allow companies to aggregate, process, and secure their data in a seamless architecture. Development of these systems is crucial to the future of cybersecurity.

In addition to voluntary policy changes, the potential legal ramifications have spurred changes. In reaction to the pending regulations in the E.U. and the potential for new requirements in the U.S., many global businesses have started to update and bolster their digital risk management efforts. Since the E.U. regulations are (so far) the most stringent and wide-ranging, multinationals and regional firms are using them as the baseline on which to base their policies and practices. It is also intended to head off further legislation that could be costly to affected industries.

The future of digital risk

The very nature of the technological advancement that has created the present security challenges guarantees the risks will continue. To stay ahead of an ever-changing digital landscape, additional actions will surely be needed from actors on all sides. This likely means the promulgation of further regulations and reporting requirements from governments, as well as more comprehensive digital risk management efforts throughout the private sector. There’s still a fair amount of catching up to do, but it seems that the appropriate amount of attention is now being given this pressing global problem.

To learn more about cybersecurity and digital risk, check out Five Ignored Practices That Can Disarm Your Cybersecurity Time Bomb.

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About Andre Smith

An Internet, Marketing and E-Commerce specialist with several years of experience in the industry. He has watched as the world of online business has grown and adapted to new technologies, and he has made it his mission to help keep businesses informed and up to date.

Digitalist Flash Briefing: Who Cares About Data Breaches?

Bonnie D. Graham

Today’s briefing looks at how major consumer data breaches – such as fraudulent credit card charges, compromised data, hijacked e-mail, or social media accounts, and loans or lines of credit opened through identity theft – impact consumers and the breached companies.

  • Amazon Echo or Dot: Enable the “Digitalist” flash briefing skill, and ask Alexa to “play my flash briefings” on every business day.
  • Alexa on a mobile device:
    • Download the Amazon Alexa app: Select Skills, and search “Digitalist”. Then, select Digitalist, and click on the Enable button.
    • Download the Amazon app: Click on the microphone icon and say “Play my flash briefing.”

Find and listen to previous Flash Briefings on Digitalistmag.com.

Read more on today’s topic

 

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About Bonnie D. Graham

Bonnie D. Graham is the creator, producer and host/moderator of 29 Game-Changers Radio series presented by SAP, bringing technology and business strategy thought leadership panel discussions to a global audience via the Business Channel on World Talk Radio. A broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years in media production and hosting, Bonnie has held marketing communications management roles in the business software, financial services, and real estate industries. She calls SAP Radio her “dream job”. Listen to Coffee Break with Game-Changers.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.


Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?


Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
 
 
 
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
 
 
 
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
 
 
 
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.


There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.


Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.


Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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The Human Factor In An AI Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

As artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated and its ability to perform human tasks accelerates exponentially, we’re finally seeing some attempts to wrestle with what that means, not just for business, but for humanity as a whole.

From the first stone ax to the printing press to the latest ERP solution, technology that reduces or even eliminates physical and mental effort is as old as the human race itself. However, that doesn’t make each step forward any less uncomfortable for the people whose work is directly affected – and the rise of AI is qualitatively different from past developments.

Until now, we developed technology to handle specific routine tasks. A human needed to break down complex processes into their component tasks, determine how to automate each of those tasks, and finally create and refine the automation process. AI is different. Because AI can evaluate, select, act, and learn from its actions, it can be independent and self-sustaining.

Some people, like investor/inventor Elon Musk and Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma, are focusing intently on how AI will impact the labor market. It’s going to do far more than eliminate repetitive manual jobs like warehouse picking. Any job that involves routine problem-solving within existing structures, processes, and knowledge is ripe for handing over to a machine. Indeed, jobs like customer service, travel planning, medical diagnostics, stock trading, real estate, and even clothing design are already increasingly automated.

As for more complex problem-solving, we used to think it would take computers decades or even centuries to catch up to the nimble human mind, but we underestimated the exponential explosion of deep learning. IBM’s Watson trounced past Jeopardy champions in 2011 – and just last year, Google’s DeepMind AI beat the reigning European champion at Go, a game once thought too complex for even the most sophisticated computer.

Where does AI leave human?

This raises an urgent question for the future: How do human beings maintain our economic value in a world in which AI will keep getting better than us at more and more things?

The concept of the technological singularity – the point at which machines attain superhuman intelligence and permanently outpace the human mind – is based on the idea that human thinking can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with technology. However, the limits of human performance have yet to be found. It’s possible that people are only at risk of lagging behind machines because nothing has forced us to test ourselves at scale.

Other than a handful of notable individual thinkers, scientists, and artists, most of humanity has met survival-level needs through mostly repetitive tasks. Most people don’t have the time or energy for higher-level activities. But as the human race faces the unique challenge of imminent obsolescence, we need to think of those activities not as luxuries, but as necessities. As technology replaces our traditional economic value, the economic system may stop attaching value to us entirely unless we determine the unique value humanity offers – and what we can and must do to cultivate the uniquely human skills that deliver that value.

Honing the human advantage

As a species, humans are driven to push past boundaries, to try new things, to build something worthwhile, and to make a difference. We have strong instincts to explore and enjoy novelty and risk – but according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, these instincts crumble if we don’t cultivate them.

AI is brilliant at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data. What it can’t do is deduce the existence, or even the possibility, of information it isn’t already aware of. It can’t imagine radical new products and business models. Or ask previously unconceptualized questions. Or envision unimagined opportunities and achievements. AI doesn’t even have common sense! As theoretical physicist Michio Kaku says, a robot doesn’t know that water is wet or that strings can pull but not push. Nor can robots engage in what Kaku calls “intellectual capitalism” – activities that involve creativity, imagination, leadership, analysis, humor, and original thought.

At the moment, though, we don’t generally value these so-called “soft skills” enough to prioritize them. We expect people to develop their competency in emotional intelligence, cross-cultural awareness, curiosity, critical thinking, and persistence organically, as if these skills simply emerge on their own given enough time. But there’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

Lessons in being human

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level – and to do so not just as soon as possible, but as early as possible.

Singularity University chairman Peter Diamandis, for example, advocates revamping the elementary school curriculum to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and persistence. He envisions a curriculum that, among other things, teaches kids to communicate, ask questions, solve problems with creativity, empathy, and ethics, and accept failure as an opportunity to try again. These concepts aren’t necessarily new – Waldorf and Montessori schools have been encouraging similar approaches for decades – but increasing automation and digitization make them newly relevant and urgent.

The Mastery Transcript Consortium is approaching the same problem from the opposite side, by starting with outcomes. This organization is pushing to redesign the secondary school transcript to better reflect whether and how high school students are acquiring the necessary combination of creative, critical, and analytical abilities. By measuring student achievement in a more nuanced way than through letter grades and test scores, the consortium’s approach would inherently require schools to reverse-engineer their curricula to emphasize those abilities.

Most critically, this isn’t simply a concern of high-tuition private schools and “good school districts” intended to create tomorrow’s executives and high-level knowledge workers. One critical aspect of the challenge we face is the assumption that the vast majority of people are inevitably destined for lives that don’t require creativity or critical thinking – that either they will somehow be able to thrive anyway or their inability to thrive isn’t a cause for concern. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, which means that everyone will need help acquiring them. For humanitarian, political, and economic reasons, we cannot just write off a large percentage of the population as disposable.

In the end, anything an AI does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique human abilities into account. Why would we want to give up our humanity in favor of letting machines determine whether or not an action or idea is valuable? Instead, while we let artificial intelligence get better at being what it is, we need to get better at being human. That’s how we’ll keep coming up with groundbreaking new ideas like jazz music, graphic novels, self-driving cars, blockchain, machine learning – and AI itself.

Read the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Build an intelligent enterprise with AI and machine learning to unite human expertise and computer insights. Run live with SAP Leonardo.


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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu