Sep 21 2023

Federal Agencies Can Better Cybersecurity Training with Third Parties

Programs provided by vendors, including CDW•G, ease the workforce development burden for strapped workplaces.

In the knowledge economy, general workforce skills can become obsolete in as little as two years. This timeline is even more compressed within the cybersecurity space as technology advances and threats evolve.

Our nation’s security depends on the federal government keeping its employees, contractors, and vendors up to date in these areas, but the task is too large for federal agencies to take care of on their own.

Successful cybersecurity operations require dedicated teams who can devote their time solely to monitoring the latest cyberthreats, staying abreast of all the patches and upgrades created by software and equipment manufacturers, and developing robust offensive and defensive cybersecurity tactics and strategies.

Government agencies are also struggling with another cybersecurity-related issue: trying to find people who can fill thousands of empty positions while competing with the private sector, where workers can earn far more money. One solution is to retrain people already working for the government, but that’s also a time-intensive project.

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In addition, agencies are required to stand up operations security programs to reduce the risk of insider threats to their data. Some, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, are attempting to address gaps in their cybersecurity workforces with apprenticeship programs; the VA’s will provide two years of on-the-job training to fill needed roles.

But what about those agencies that can’t afford their own workforce development and training programs? Third-party teams are stepping in where government doesn’t have the bandwidth. Current and future federal cyber workers can obtain cyber certifications from these teams and learn how to combat advanced threats.

How Cybersecurity Training Creates Better Flexibility for Agencies

Learning new technologies is a major part of cybersecurity training, and some areas are more technical than others. For the person who wants that new skill, the prospect can be daunting. But look at where the military often finds its novice cyber soldiers: among young men and women just out of high school with little to no work experience.

Just as the military trains new service members without cyber background, civilian IT workers with outdated skills can also be quickly retrained. Numerous workers face job obsolescence because of automation and other advanced tech, but their basic knowledge of networks and systems remains valuable.

Third-party teams can take that foundation and cross-train those workers in cybersecurity, teaching them the skills for analysis, threat detection, incident response, risk assessment and cyber strategy. The teams can take someone who has no experience in computer science or who has some basic background in information technology and train the candidate to fill one of those open roles.

CDW•G and its training partner, Applied Technology Academy, offer training in both offensive and defensive cybersecurity, as well as in broader security-related disciplines, such as identity and access management, cloud security, Internet of Things, secure application development, data analytics, and reverse engineering.

LEARN MORE: Get the details on CDW•G’s cybersecurity training programs.

Through its authorized training partnerships with Microsoft, Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Amazon Web Services, Fortinet and others, CDW can also align its training with agencies’ specific infrastructure solutions and required outcomes, as generalized training isn’t always sufficient to meet workforce development needs.

One of the key advantages of this training is the emphasis on hands-on work; at least 60 percent to 70 percent of class time focuses on that aspect. Additionally, our proven, instructor-led delivery model differentiates our programs and courses from many others on the market, allowing us to meet students at their knowledge and experience level and offer one-to-one support as needed to help them master skills and develop professional competencies.

Computer simulations, tabletop exercises, labs and case studies in each course give students experience and help them to develop skills needed in the workforce, such as good writing, giving presentations and teaching others.

The classes are live, either in person or online, so that students and instructors can get immediate responses. Breakout rooms give students who want extra help a chance to get it privately.

READ ON: Learn why cybersecurity training is key to establishing a zero-trust environment.

Government Workers Need Special Cybersecurity Training

Federal employees who work in defense may also need training in different aspects of cybersecurity than those who work for civilian agencies. Government workers, contractors and vendors in general often require specialized training that the private sector doesn’t, particularly with respect to regulatory compliance, risk assessment and governance. 

CDW’s Workforce Development practice originated from intelligence community roots and has grown to support some of the most highly specialized cybersecurity roles within the Defense Department. These programs continue to support onboarding and rapid training to develop the initial operating capability of new cybersecurity workers.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series.

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