By August 11, 2017 Read More →

Editorial: Cybersecurity could be state’s next high tech job growth field

From The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg:

First there was the FBI CJIS facility that brought 3,000 jobs to North Central West Virginia, which has forever changed and diversified the region’s economy.

Then came the development at the High-Tech park in Fairmont with 1,500 jobs, including such names as: Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc. FirstEnergy Corp., Lockheed Martin, ManTech International Corporation, Northrop Grumman, TASC Inc., TRAX International Corporation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The I-79 Technology Park is home to the West Virginia Community and Technical College System’s North Central Advanced Technology Center (ATC), bringing a valuable high-tech academic component to the NCWV economy.

Next up was the FBI’s Biometrics Center of Excellence, located next to the CJIS facility, which opened in 2015. It is the FBI’s program for exploring and advancing the use of new and enhanced biometric technologies and capabilities for integration into operations. Every day, the BCOE strives to deliver state-of-the-art biometric tools and technologies to law enforcement and intelligence personnel working around the world.

Now in an increasingly hostile world rife with cyberattacks from foreign governments and terrorists alike, the fastest growing and in-demand field is cybersecurity.

“We ought to be the cybersecurity center of the country,” West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said last week while appearing in Huntington during a discussion about economic development.

“We have the FBI… We have cyber crime facilities. We are just far enough away from Washington to be safe, but we are still within their driving distance.”

One trick is, others are noticing this potential, too. A recent Reuters headline described “Flush times for hackers in booming cybersecurity job market.”

The nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education last month predicted a global shortage of 1.8 million skilled security workers in 2022, the Reuters article noted. The group, which credentials security professionals, said that a third of hiring managers plan to boost their security teams by at least 15 percent.

Several of West Virginia’s higher education institutions, including WVU, have been laying the groundwork to meet the needs of the burgeoning cybersecurity industry.

Students may learn a range of skills — from gathering digital evidence after a crime has been committed online to providing better defense against malevolent online probes.

High employer demand, fabulous salaries, great promotion prospects — what’s not to love about cybersecurity? According to data compiled by Burning Glass, postings for cybersecurity jobs grew 74 percent in the past decade — two times faster than other IT positions.

Cybersecurity analysts help prevent attacks through their expertise and knowledge of databases, networks, hardware, firewalls and encryption. Cybersecurity analysts may also regulate access to computer files, develop firewalls, perform risk assessments and test data processing systems to verify security measures.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this profession to grow at a rate of 18 percent through 2024. The median annual salary for these positions is $90,000.

With low costs and a trained workforce, West Virginia could be an attractive place for companies in cybersecurity to do business. We proved it with the FBI CJIS facility. We proved it with the Biometrics Center. Now, it’s time to prove it by developing NCWV as a national cybersecurity hub, as well.

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