Joined by high ranking cyber professionals from industry, academia and government, Becker and his fellow panelists discussed the convergence of factors that has led San Diego to become a cybersecurity hub, with a significant impact on the regional economy. According to the Cyber Center of Excellence, San Diego is home to 7,600 cyber jobs that generate $1.9 billion in economic impact and these numbers will only continue to grow.
During the event, attendees gained insight directly from those who design, develop and deploy advanced cybersecurity technologies throughout the city, state, nation and world.
In addition to Becker, some of the brightest minds in cyber served as panelists to represent prominent organizations throughout San Diego that significantly influence the city's economy and cybersecurity environment, including FBI Supervisory Special Agent John Caruthers and University of California San Diego cybersecurity expert Dr. Stefan Savage.
Senior security consultant for Kryptos Logic, Paul Bergman, moderated the panel, kicking off the event with asking Becker how SPAWAR remains at the forefront of cybersecurity.
"We rely on the great talent of our people, so that we can protect and defend our nation," said Becker. "We employ nearly half of the cyber professionals in the greater San Diego area. Remaining on the cutting edge is about attracting, obtaining and maintaining talent."
In today's ever evolving technological environment, Savage commented that it is both about attracting talent and continually educating employees.
"It is imperative for cybersecurity professionals to be doing continuous learning from day one," said Savage. "It is not an area where you can train up a fixed set of skills and expect professionals to be ready to perform. They must be trained with the ability to be agile and acquire new skills on the job."
With a mission to remain ahead of threats through leadership, agility, and integration, cybersecurity is a key concern for the FBI.
"We have a top ten priority list," said Caruthers. "The first is to protect the United States from terrorist attacks, the second is to protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage, and the third is to protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes."
The combination of the need to stay ahead of today's ever evolving cyber threat and the increasing need for cybersecurity professionals, has generated a great amount of interest in San Diego, making the region a hot spot for both innovation and investment.
"The interest is there. Just this week, for the second time, the Department of Homeland Security's Chief Information Officer along with a number of senior information technology officials made a point to come out to San Diego to take a tour of some of the most advanced tech companies, both big and small, the city has to offer," said Becker.
Concluding the event, Bergman left the panelists with one last question: what is one of your greatest concerns in the foreseeable future?
"Complacency," said Becker. "We have had some wake up calls about the criticality of properly managing information and have had to learn some hard truths about the importance of cybersecurity... We cannot and will not take our eye off the ball."
Moving forward, SPAWAR will continue to join the city of San Diego in its fight against cyber threats by partnering with industry and academia, continually training and educating cyber employees, hiring highly talented and dedicated cyber professionals, developing innovative cyber technologies, and efficiently and effectively delivering those technologies to the warfighter.
SPAWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities supporting naval, joint, coalition and other national missions. SPAWAR consists of more than 10,000 active duty military and civil service professionals located around the world and close to the fleet to keep SPAWAR at the forefront of research, engineering and acquisition to provide and sustain information warfare capabilities to the fleet.