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April 22, 2022

ElevatED (S2:Ep 7) Career Chat: Cybersecurity with Richard Staynings   

University College podcast guest expert delves into the wide career landscape of cybersecurity.  

Cybersecurity is an issue that is at the forefront in many parts of daily life. From checking a text in the morning, taking classes, and receiving healthcare to running a business, much of our lives happen in the online space. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology and computers, cybersecurity is a prevalent concern.

It is also a growing industry full of diverse professional opportunities. On a recent University College ElevatEd podcast, guest, Richard Staynings, provided an inside look into the world of cybersecurity, why it matters, and why it is an industry that is always hiring.  

Richard Staynings is a globally renowned cybersecurity expert, author, public speaker, and educator. His work focuses on improved cybersecurity across the healthcare and life sciences industry. The many companies he has worked with include Amgen Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Cisco CSC, Intermountain Healthcare, PeaceHealth, PWC, Intel, Microsoft, and Zurich Financial. Staynings also teaches graduate courses at University College in the Information and Communications Technology and Health Informatics programs.  

Cybersecurity, as Staynings explains, is the bundling of the many aspects of digital security together. It is the complicated process of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use. This also includes the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. Cybersecurity risks include ransomware, phishing attacks, access to data, what data is being used for, and more. There is a constantly growing list of threats that come with living in a digital world.  

Staynings believes that the need for professionals in the cybersecurity industry is only growing. 

“According to the Cisco Annual Security Report, there is 12 times demand over supply for security professionals. That means that there are 12 open security positions for every certified, qualified, or experienced person able to fill the role. With odds like that, anyone entering the cybersecurity profession will have a lucrative job for life,” he said.  

Almost everything we do has some connection to a computer or to a device that is online. The digitization of records and systems through IT systems and IOT devices has made keeping most people’s vital information online the norm. A cyberattack or threat can be a simple inconvenience in some cases, in others, like healthcare systems, it can be life-threatening.  

The digitization of records and the use of networking and online resources have changed the process of healthcare in our country. It has widened the range and ability of doctors to treat patients, as well as for patients to access records and care. It has also given access to the personal information of millions of people should there be a security breach. The cost of a data breach costs millions of dollars and can cause irreparable harm to individuals.  

“Security is not just about technologies and security technology controls like firewalls and endpoint protection, or the ability to read team and penetration tests. It’s a lot more about process and policy determining who should have access to systems and data. It’s also about simple things like training users to think before they click and other simple things like recognizing a phishing attack or some other forms of socializing information out of an unwitting person who thinks that they’re doing the right thing by providing that security. Understanding and being able to calculate risk is fundamental,” he said. 

Cybersecurity is an industry that needs as many people as possible and has opportunities for people of many diverse strengths. A variety of skills are needed in an industry that Staynings describes as needing “all the help we can get.”   

“My advice to students or to those considering a jump to this profession is, get your feet wet, figure out what you like to do,” he said. “If you don’t like what you’re doing right now, then make a lateral move into some other aspect of cybersecurity bringing those skills to that new role and enrich that role. The most important aspect in my opinion is really aptitude. You have to be able to pick yourself up when you get knocked to the floor and get back into the fight. “ 

As someone who has seen the industry grow from its very bare beginnings, Staynings offers insight and wisdom that few others can. Listen to the full podcast to hear his complete interview, and how he suggests anyone who wants to find a starting place in the cybersecurity field.  

University College offers several different graduate degree and certificate options for those looking to pursue a career in the IT and cybersecurity fields. A variety of technology-based boot camps, including one with a cybersecurity focus, are also available through the Center for Professional Development.

Catch up with the entire ElevatED Podcast.

The ElevatED podcast is a space for conversations around the intersection of industry and higher education for adult learners. Brought to you by the University of Denver’s college of continuing and professional studies, University College.

By Danielle DeGroot, University College Writer

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