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Securing our Cyber Ecosystem

A Raytheon executive's call: Invest now to meet future cybersecurity needs.

Dave Wajsgras talks with students from the University of Central Florida, winners of the 2016 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

By Dave Wajsgras

Raytheon is well-positioned to see the cyber threat landscape from multiple perspectives. As our technology helps to ensure critical systems stay ahead of cyber threats, we are constantly reminded that the cybersecurity needs of tomorrow require a proactive and collective effort today. That’s what National Cyber Security Awareness Month is all about.

Cybersecurity is not the responsibility of just a few companies, groups or individuals. It’s not something that only certain portions of our society should be concerned with, and it is not something that will happen on its own. Everyone shares the responsibility for cybersecurity – from the average smartphone user to the corporate CEO.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month is all about the future and a renewed commitment to protecting the systems and networks that comprise our cyber infrastructure. This requires that we have the right resources – the right people with the right capabilities to confront future cyber threats – and enough of them.

Every day we are developing tools and technologies capable of self-assessing and mitigating vulnerabilities. These are indispensable first steps. But when we look at how rapidly cyber dependence has grown and the pace of technological advances, it’s clear that we must also focus on educating future generations of cyber professionals.

From our smartphones to highly classified networks, there is a global need for talent to build, secure and improve our cyberspace. We will increasingly depend on our young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and math – the subjects collectively known as STEM.

Current estimates set the cyber talent shortfall at one million professionals. Stop and think about that for just a minute. That number — one million — is higher than the projected shortfall for doctors, nurses and teachers combined. I don’t know of a starker or more glaring statistic or indicator of the importance of investing in the future generation of cyber professionals.

Eliminating the growing deficit in our cyber workforce requires that we all, no matter what industry we’re in, focus on raising cyber awareness among our youngest generations.

Beyond the talent gap as a whole, the pool itself is shrinking as more women regard cyber as a career path that's not open to them. This is a troubling reality that demands our attention and action to close the gender gap in STEM fields.

We’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go. In 2015, women made up just 10 percent of the world’s information security workforce. That number is down from 11 percent in 2013. As an industry leader, we need to understand the causal factors and work to reverse this trend.

According to a survey we conducted of 18- to 26-year-olds worldwide, 40 percent of young men, but only 28 percent of young women, received advice about cyber careers from teachers or counselors in high school. Women (38 percent) are more likely than men (25 percent) to believe that activities encouraging cybersecurity as a career choice are not available to them. We must help women clearly see there is a path for them in cybersecurity careers.

We can do something about the cyber challenges we face. We must be proactive, committed and willing to work together. We must re-evaluate our current mindset around cybersecurity, automate the tools and technologies that protect and sustain our systems, and invest in future generations of cyber professionals.

From where I sit, the future is here, and I’m excited about what we can accomplish if we work together to build a more secure cyber domain.

Dave Wajsgras is president of Raytheon's Intelligence Information and Services business.

This document does not contain technology or technical data controlled under either the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations or the U.S. Export Administration Regulations. E16-SHHK

Published: 09/28/2016

Last Updated: 10/03/2016

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