First Federal Reskilling Academy offers cybersecurity training

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Jason Gray, CIO at the Department of Education, and Alan Paller, founder & director of research at the SANS Institute, discuss cyber training initiatives in government, and what they are looking for in applicants.


The Office of Management and Budget is starting several education programs to reskill the federal workforce. The first initiative is cybersecurity training. Through a program open to all government employees, workers will learn about cyber practices and problem-solving. Jason Gray, CIO at the Department of Education, says that sometimes people without security experience make the best candidates for training.

“We were in a cybersecurity orientation session earlier this year and we had someone who was a financial analyst ask, ‘Hey, how do I get into cyber?’ So Anyone who has the desire and the drive but also, I think the hobbyists at home who set up their own computers and networks and tinker around, they take things apart, they’re very interested in technology, I would certainly encourage them to apply,” Gray said.

Alan Paller, Founder & Director of Research at the SANS Institute, says that training requires interest, but also the ability to learn the lingo.

“You can’t train someone to be a cyber person if they don’t have the language. It would be like training a surgeon who didn’t know anatomy. It turns out in cyber, there’s an anatomy. There’s networking, the internals of the computers, Linux, Python; if you don’t know how to do that, all you can do is talk about security. You can’t do anything important in terms of finding the bad guys and getting them out and cleaning your machine. This program has a little section that teaches people anatomy and then they excel through the courses and when they tried it without the anatomy course, people just didn’t know the language. They ran into a wall.”