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Cybersecurity Warriors Needed Now

After the last massive cyberattack, every business is going to have to train employees, customers, and even children to be cyber warriors for the future. We are going to need tons of cybersecurity workers in the future, and in Arizona we need them right away.

I spent a Friday afternoon at the Arizona Cyber Warfare Range, escorted (as every visitor must be) by a volunteer. The range is located out at Williams Field, where a network of volunteers and mentors has set up learning resources to help people from government, the private sector, and education learn what they must know to prevent or analyze cyber warfare. There are a dozen work stations with online learning modules, and people around to help and instruct.

As a 24×7 live-fire cyber warfare range , the ACWR provides the community with InfoSec (information security) training. Its entire purpose is to develop a well-trained workforce that knows how to improve continuously to meet newly emerging threats to security and mount new forms of cyber defense.

There are free hands-on exercises for everyone from beginners to tenured professionals through real world operations. Each area is designed to meet the needs of the students’​ education level, and there is an almost guaranteed upward career progression in the real world of cyber defense and InfoSec. Skills are learned in a hands-on, real world environment. The participants learn Computer Network Attack (CNA), Computer Network Defense (CND), and Digital Forensics.

It’s all very informal, and there’s not that much you can really talk about in detail, which makes this a very difficult organization for me to evangelize. Why do we even care? Because we have anywhere from 6500 to 20,000 unfilled jobs in the cybersecurity industry in Arizona alone, and we can’t train people fast enough to fill them. Already one security company has decamped to Washington DC, citing a shortage of local talent. The University of Advancing Technology and ASU both have programs in forensic technology (analyzing and preventing cyber crimes), but those students are not ready yet for those jobs. Estrella Mountain Community College has a SCADA (industrial control systems) cyber security track, one of the relatively few schools to have this available.

University of Arizona and Embry-Riddle are also highly active in cyber security, and institutions like DeVry host competitions and talks from the FBI and Secret Service.

The entire goal of the ACWR organization is to develop a pipeline of people who are interested in those jobs, which pay anything from $60,000 up to start, right now. That’s what the Range is for.

There are actually multiple ongoing state and national efforts to improve cyber security training, workforce and research within the valley:


Plenty of conferences and events:





As well as multiple security groups:





That’s just a small sampling; more info about security events going on in AZ can be found on the SouthWest Cyber Security Events site.

Fortunately, by rummaging around the website, I found out the Range is having an open house on June 24, to which you can come without an escort. Here’s a link to the details, so you can sign up. The infosec community is especially interested in having women and minorities in attendance, because the tech community is already skewed so heavily male and white.

Please share this with friends who might be interested, since the Range is not very good at PR:-)



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francine hardaway

francine hardaway


Co-founder, Stealthmode Partners, helping entrepreneurs succeed