Collaborating with public, private and government stakeholders, the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) is building a safer San Diego, for everyone. Through these partnerships, CCOE is developing sustainable pipelines of cybersecurity experts that will continue to protect the residents and businesses of San Diego from cyber threats and attacks. Here, Lisa Easterly, CCOE president & CEO, shares how San Diegans can stay safe and get involved.
Can you tell me more about the programs you offer?
Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) is a San Diego-based nonprofit dedicated to solving cybersecurity workforce, economic development and infrastructure challenges through collaboration with industry, academia and government. Our programs and initiatives are tailored to grow the regional cyber economy by:
- Attracting and nurturing talent
- Creating new business opportunities
- Fostering collaboration and resiliency in the cyber community
Based on these pillars, CCOE develops best practices and templates that can be piloted industry-by-industry or scaled to the city, state or federal level to seed the talent pipeline, drive innovation and protect our nation’s infrastructure.
What else do you want the community to know about CCOE?
Cybersecurity is now everyone’s business! The FBI reported a 300% increase in cybercrimes across all industries during the pandemic with the average cost of a data breach climbing over $4 million (Ponemon Institute, 2021). More than half of these costly attacks are aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, our economy’s engines. Pair that with the global shortage of cyber professionals to thwart these attacks and it becomes mission critical to address this systemic risk.
The good news is that San Diego is leading the charge with more than 870 cyber firms and the U.S. Navy’s Naval Warfare Systems Command. The cluster now accounts for more than 24,000 jobs and has a total economic impact of $3.5 billion annually, equal to hosting nine Super Bowls or 23 Comic-Cons! This collaborative ecosystem is developing new technology, defenses and cyber warriors to combat the ever-evolving threat landscape.
How else is CCOE impacting the community?
CCOE is partnering with the cities of Carlsbad and Vista to provide basic cybersecurity training to small businesses that may be vulnerable to cyber threats at a time when they are also economically impacted by the pandemic. The initial pilot programs are targeting up to 500 small businesses and include an FBI Executive Briefing, Mastercard RiskRecon Cybersecurity Snapshot Reports, ESET Cybersecurity Awareness Employee Training, CyberCatch Cyber Incident Response Simulator and connectivity to San Diego’s cyber industry at no cost to participants.
CCOE is also a member of California’s CADENCE team, supporting the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Manufacturing Communities Support Program. Together, we are developing a state-wide consortium and San Diego Regional Cyber Lab to propel DoD’s modernization priorities in cybersecurity, 5G and AI technologies, as well as workforce development, research and analysis, and mechanisms for knowledge sharing and scaling. Opening in the fall of 2022, the San Diego Regional Cyber Lab will provide the greater San Diego region with coordinated cybersecurity awareness through collaborative access to tools, intelligence and a trained and capable workforce. The goal is to enhance cybersecurity resilience through timely sharing of information and analysis, and specialized training with safe environments to simulate and defend against cyberattacks.
CCOE also celebrates our fifth year of the FBI Executive Briefing Series to support the bureau’s industry engagement efforts and educate San Diego’s key sectors on the current risk landscape, mitigation strategies and available resources. To date, CCOE and the FBI have hosted 19 tailored programs for the region’s key sectors including: advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, Cleantech, defense, finance, healthcare, legal, life sciences, maritime and wealth management. The programs have reached more than 800 c-level executives from small businesses to global corporations.
Why is workforce development important to your organization’s mission?
CCOE was born from an economic impact and workforce development study conducted by the San Diego Regional EDC in 2014, that primed industry leaders to collaborate on the challenges and opportunities identified by the research. Now, we conduct the biennial studies to gauge the growth and diversification of the industry, spotlight pain points to inform programming, and identify proliferation of new technologies and solutions.
So, can you guess the #1 challenge facing the industry for 8 years running? Workforce. CCOE and the San Diego cyber community are leading the charge to increase access via new career pathways, work-based learning and on-the-ground collaboration between industry and academia. It should be noted that women and minorities only account for a quarter of workers in the industry. Homogeneity creates easier access for bad actors. However, engaging underrepresented populations and non-traditional candidates not only provides untapped resources for the industry, but can be life-changing for whole communities.
This is why CCOE is partnering with the San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego Regional EDC and NAVWAR on the regional cyber talent pipeline program, CyberHire. CyberHire is a public-private partnership, funded by a grant from the Irvine Foundation, and is informed by local and national career pathway and economic impact research in the cybersecurity and IT talent space. With CyberHire, we will build the size, diversity and quality of the local cybersecurity talent pipeline applying the Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) framework established by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, by developing consensus around foundational skillsets required for high-demand feeder and entry-level cybersecurity jobs.
We are currently recruiting employers to support the training and hiring of 185 underrepresented and underemployed individuals in the region who have applied to complete a designated Preferred Provider cyber program. If your organization is interested in learning more about the employer benefits and opportunities to tap into this underrepresented talent pool, let us know!