The American economy is in jeopardy, and most people don’t even know it. Small businesses account for 99% of all U.S. businesses. They employ 60% of Americans and are responsible for more than half of the United States gross domestic product (GDP). In 2015, 62% of all data breaches were of small to medium sized businesses per Symantec, and 60% of those businesses were forced to close their doors within 6 months of being attacked. These statistics are scary, and indicate we are one major cyber-attack away from an economic crisis.
So how do we fix this? The FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) were never designed to protect our nation from cyber-attacks, and even if they could they have their hands full with nation state actors and attacks against the government and Fortune 500 companies.
Private industry surely can solve this problem, but with one major caveat. Yes, the Amazon’s Google’s and Apple’s of the world have incredible engineers and technical talent, but they are not security people. They are producers of brilliant, convenient, easy to use applications and hardware, because that is what the consumer has demanded for so long, resulting in those being the highest paying jobs that get our country’s best talent. The only exception to this, is those who decided to serve our country, be it for the military or a government, three letter agency (for brevity sake, I lump these government agencies into the “military” for the rest of this blog), because those jobs are definitely not about the money. And not by accident, the military has cared about cybersecurity since the beginning of the internet revolution. Therein lies the problem and the solution, nobody except the military cared about security until relatively recently.
What this means is that hundreds of thousands of trained cybersecurity experts are currently roaming the streets. We need to incentivize them to solve this problem, because private industry currently lacks the talent and bench strength to do so without them. Don’t believe me, take a look at the prolonged labor shortage that is predicted to reach 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021. Just look at the top cybersecurity companies today and their backgrounds. TrustedSec was founded by a former Marine Dave Kennedy. Mandiant by Kevin Mandia, a former United States Air Force officer.
The good news is the tides are turning. As consumers begin to demand more security, companies are starting to build it in. To start, they are hiring veterans to bring the security skill set and culture to companies that haven’t ever had it. Schools are beginning to teach secure coding and ethical hacking, and private industry is finally starting to pay the best and the brightest to go into security instead of software development. But it takes time, and the shift won’t happen overnight.
In the meantime, as you kick back and sip your beverage of choice on this fourth of July holiday, and undoubtedly think about the service men and women that have fought for and protected our independence for 240 years, take the line of thinking one step further. Ask a veteran you know to help with America’s next great crisis. Encourage them to start a company, open an Ariento franchise, take a job as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of a medium sized business. If they don’t, we may all be in trouble.