The cyber threat landscape is more dynamic than ever. Reports detail a global proliferation of malicious and criminal cyber activity at a time when we are increasingly dependent on cyber capabilities in all aspects of our lives. There are no longer international boundaries, with state actors experimenting with offensive cyber capabilities. Moreover, cyber criminals are broadening their efforts to achieve higher value pay-outs from citizens, organizations and institutions. Thankfully, Lockheed Martin employees in Central Florida are working hard to ward off malicious activity and have a sharp eye on protecting U.S. military assets. The Florida Chamber recently spoke with Deon Viergutz, Vice President, Lockheed Martin Cyber Solutions about the company’s cybersecurity initiatives and workforce.
Q: Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin secured a $33 million contract from the U.S. Army to enhance the military’s cybersecurity efforts. Please share your organization’s efforts in helping make sure our nation’s defense infrastructure is secure from the cybersecurity perspective and the impact it has on Florida’s growing technology sector.
DV: Lockheed Martin is a global leader delivering full-spectrum cyber capabilities – supporting the offensive and defensive efforts of our defense, intelligence community and national security customers. This is a growing field – in fact, you’ll find more cyber-related sections in the recent National Defense Authorization Act than previous NDAAs. Within Lockheed Martin, our team has been the prime contractor supporting the National Cyber Range and its mission to perform cyber testing and training activities, beginning with the range’s initial development under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Since then, we’ve provided secure facilities, innovative technologies, and repeatable processes that create high fidelity, mission-representative cyberspace environments for the Department of Defense’s acquisition programs and Cyber Mission Force. Furthermore, the team is leveraging their experience in creating, maintaining and executing complex training environments for the Persistent Cyber Training Environment competition – a U.S. Army contract in which we’re vying that has a ceiling of $750 million. These give you a sample of the many contracts we support, most of which are classified in nature. This work has translated to an increase in high quality technology jobs in the local community.
Q: What are some of the emerging technology trends in the cyber space and what’s Lockheed involvement in them?
DV: There are two key emerging areas that will truly change the 21st century battlefield and we’re making internal research and development investments in both. The first is using artificial intelligence to collect, collate, sift, analyze and share vast amounts of information with the intelligence community. This is a significant problem as warfighters are overloaded with keeping track of threats. The second area is in training and simulation. Our Orlando team is on the cutting edge of technology development in this area. As we look to the future for training and simulation, I see tremendous opportunities to help our customers advance training realism and point of need training, while helping them meet their budget needs. Our Lockheed Martin team is focused on redefining mission readiness because simulation saves money and training saves lives.
Q: Employers regularly tell us a qualified “workforce” is their biggest concern. How difficult is it for Lockheed to fill these important cybersecurity/STEM jobs?
DV: There’s certainly a shortage of cleared cyber talent and research shows the number of unfilled cyber jobs is expected to rise to 3.5 million by 2021. That said, we’re partnering with academic and government organizations to invest in and develop a broad array of programs that strengthen the pipeline of STEM talent by inspiring children early, reaching out to the underrepresented, opening mentoring, training and internship opportunities, and partnering with higher education to provide apprenticeships, clearance programs, and job offers. Luckily for us, local institutions such as the University of Central Florida and other universities are graduating tremendous talent in the cyber field. My advice for high school or undecided college students is to seriously consider a job in cyber. Not only are there plenty of job opportunities, but the mission of helping militaries around the world keep their citizens safe is unmatched by any other industry.
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