Science & Technology

National forum for cybersecurity executives to address critical workforce shortage

Cybersecurity executives from across the nation will seek to combat the rapidly-evolving cyber threat landscape and address the critical shortage of professionals at the Centers of Academic Excellence Executive Leadership Forum on April 24 to 25 at the Hilton Pensacola Beach hotel.

UWF student in the Cybersecurity Battle Lab

The University of West Florida, a nationally-recognized leader in cybersecurity education and training, will partner with the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security to host the fourth annual forum, which unites executives in academia, business and government.

Forum topics include national challenges in cybersecurity workforce development, state and industry workforce needs, international cybersecurity education initiatives and industry innovations in cybersecurity. Distinguished speakers include cybersecurity executives from the Department of Defense, DHS, NATO, IBM, AT&T, in addition to academic institutions with nationally-recognized cybersecurity programs.

“UWF is honored to host a forum that attracts the sharpest minds in cybersecurity to convene and collaborate on shared visions for a cyber-secure world,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “Our nationally-recognized cybersecurity program is at the forefront of innovation. We are proud to educate rising cybersecurity professionals who are ready to join a growing, technology-driven industry.”

Cybersecurity Ventures, a provider of data and analytics for the industry, projects the global shortage of professionals to reach 3.5 million by 2021—the shortage in the United States currently exceeds 300,000. A shortage of professionals leaves businesses and government agencies increasingly susceptible to data breaches that cost millions of dollars and impact millions of customers.

In the past decade, eBay, Equifax, Marriott, Target and Yahoo! each reported breaches that compromised more than 100 million individuals’ personal data. The average cost of a data breach to a U.S. business is $7.9 million and takes an average of 266 days to identify and contain, according to the Cost of a Data Breach Study conducted by IBM.

“Cybersecurity is rapidly becoming an opportunity for total information awareness, insight and value creation,” said Jonathan Arneault, a forum panelist who serves as the director of the North America Software-as-a-Service, Center of Excellence and Go-to-Market Transformation for IBM. “The marketplace needs people with new skills and new understanding in order to seize this tremendous opportunity. In the golden age of information, information is the gold. Those who protect it the best and enhance its values the most, are the companies you should trust and use.”

A ransomware attack in March of 2018 destabilized municipal operations in the City of Atlanta and the cost was an estimated $17 million. That same month the DHS and FBI reported a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who accessed commercial facilities’ networks, conducted network reconnaissance and collected information pertaining to Industrial Control Systems.

The NSA and DHS jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The goal of the program is to reduce vulnerability in national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise. The University of West Florida is a CAE designated institution and serves as one of eight Cybersecurity CAE Regional Resource Centers across the nation.

“Cybersecurity, without a doubt, is critical to our security and economic prosperity,” said Diane M. Janosek, a featured speaker at the forum who serves as commandant for the NSA’s National Cryptologic School. “Each one of us plays a key role in guarding our freedoms, and the NCS deeply appreciates NSA’s significant partnership with UWF in our collective passion and dedication in protecting our nation.”

For more information about the CAE Executive Leadership Forum, visit