Over 300,000 unfilled jobs in cybersecurity await skilled and qualified professionals in North America, according to the first female Chief Information Officer at the White House, who oversaw IT operations for President George W. Bush and the 3,000+ members of the Executive Office of the President. Currently, Theresa Payton is CEO of Fortalice Solutions, an industry-leading security consulting company, and co-founder of Dark Cubed. Most recently, she served as Head of Intelligence on the CBS Tv show, Hunted. She believes that one of the biggest risks for businesses in the U.S. right now, continues to be the threat of ransomware attacks. “Ransomware is one of the largest under-reported cyber crimes and it is growing exponentially because these cyber criminals are not easily caught, since many know the good guy techniques and can easily hide their trails.” she said to Huffpost.
Payton is the special guest for 2018 at the IT SMB Success Summit Series promoted by ASCII Group, that brings together over 1,400 providers and vendors, members of a community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers located throughout the U.S. and Canada. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, and extensive peer interaction. The first meeting this year occurred in California, in February 21st and 22nd, and discussed ways in which the Managed Service Providers (MSP) can be helped to generate recurring revenue using IoT, and how the IT companies and decision makers can fill the gaps in cybersecurity.
Payton is one of the keynote speakers whose panel is the one of the event’s highlights. She masterfully blends memorable anecdotes with cutting-edge insights to heighten awareness of the perils of our uber-connected world. As she delves into the cyber-underworld, and the new kinds of threats that can lead to tomorrow’s breaches, and insider risk, she offers a proven blueprint for audiences to stay a step ahead, with practical steps for thinking like the adversary, while managing cybersecurity risk, which is a fundamental point for Managed Service Providers (MSP) as well because they’re today’s heroes for IT developers and final clients. That’s why the IT SMB is designed to deliver maximum value to MSPs, according to ASCII president Jerry Koutavas, who states, “Our agenda is geared to help MSPs grow their business, offer additional services, help their customers transition to the cloud and increase monthly recurring revenue opportunities”.
“ASCII is on my event ‘go-to’ list every year,” said Raffi Jamgotchian, Triada Networks, ASCII member since 2008. “They combine a great mix of speakers, workshop sessions, and top-notch vendors that understand the importance of the channel. Best of all, I get to connect with my peers. Although we are in the same competitive market, ASCII members are always there to help out.”
Theresa Payton’s approachability, combined with her visionary perspective, and easy to implement strategies, effectively prepared the audience of the IT SMB Success Summer in the ongoing battle against cybercrime. In her opinion, most of the time it does not require a checkbook being opened to create a safer company. It comes down to the human element. “If businesses around the globe want to win the war against cybercrime, we must move to a high empathy system. It’s all about design. We need to design all applications to assume that users will do everything wrong, according to the cybersecurity playbook. They will share passwords, they will forget them, and they will do unsafe things to get their jobs done, such as use free, unsecure WiFi. If we keep doing the same security programs, but just try to speed them up with more money and resources, we are doomed for failure”.
In IoT, it is fundamental to predict the failures in order to mitigate cost and, this can generate revenue. This is what the Action Point Business Development Manager Tim Martin explains in his lecture “How One Company is Helping MSPs Generate Recurring Revenue Using IoT”, during the ASCII event.
The Action Point is a developer that serves clients across Ireland, the UK and the US and partnerships with Dell and Microsoft to create the IoT Predict. “It’s a solution in a box that makes it easy for manufacturers to make their machines smart, and analyse data collected by sensors to avoid break ups and bad functioning that could stop a production line for days”, illustrates Martin.
As IoT is a new term, he explains that the experience is showing that many manufacturers in pharmaceutical industries, for example, aren’t sure how to invest and create industrial IoT.
He points to opportunities in the field for the vendors in the channel that could reach the MSPs responsible for selling, and providing a full service cycle that includes business mentoring. He suggests to learn and offer solutions for business process automation, traceability, predictive maintenance, environmental Industrial IoT (IIoT), Big Data Analytics, machine learning and mixed reality. This way you can profit not only with sales, but by increasing the revenue for both parts. “The MSP is the one who has the relationship with the client. He even makes more revenue than the developer. Ask him what problems he is trying to solve. There is no pearl without the grit”.
Keeping the human connection for coaching and mentoring is very important for Theresa Payton. At the White House, her staff, as a mix of political and non political members, was given the opportunity to pursue technical and process training like Six Sigma to further their careers, and they were stimulated to share knowledge and time as much as was possible.
This is a key factor for the expert in facing the lack of qualified professionals in cybersecurity, since in her opinion, there certainly isn’t a labor shortage. According to a study done by Crest, a non profit organisation that serves the needs of the IT security marketplace, only 10% of the global cybersecurity workforce is comprised of women. “While there is a shortage of women in cybersecurity, there isn’t a lack of talented and strong women”. That’s why she created the Help a Sister Up LinkedIn group, to serve as a resource to empower women in cyber. “Many hiring managers are leaving women and minority candidates on the sidelines by chasing the same resumes, the same degrees and the same alphabet soup of certifications in qualified candidates.”
Her biggest piece of advice to executives everywhere “is to be creative, innovative, open, purposeful and mindful about how a candidate looks beyond their appearance on paper”. If they invest the time to be a coach and mentor, they can get them up to speed. “This, in turn, creates loyal, creative, problem solvers who are more likely to stay at their organization.”
To succeed in the cyber industry and remain competitive in the workplace, she recommends free cybersecurity online courses, security frameworks and guidance available for free, such as the NIST framework, CIS Critical Security Controls, SSÅE 16 and discussions on GDPR. “Leverage social media to hear what’s on the minds of security experts. In this field, regardless if you’re a man or woman, we need to be a constant student of our profession”.
The next ASCII’s IT SMB Success Summit will be in Fort Lauderdale, FL, in March 21 and Austin, TX, in April 18. For further information, visit www.asciievents.com
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