Career Insights

Call to Duty: Security Professionals Must Give Back to Communities

Call to Duty: Security Professionals Must Give Back to Communities

That is to say, you worked hard, quietly and humbly, to achieve these certifications, and you persevere to keep your cert current with annual renewals, dues, conference attendance, reading trade publications and accumulating continuing professional education credits. Yet, you often don't take the extra steps to reach out to the community to further the IA field, and to further public awareness of the importance of IA.

You can easily fall into the rut of doing your day-to-day job, supporting your company, and protecting your own infrastructure. But you may not take the time to publish articles, teach courses, speak at conferences, visit local high schools, mentor college students or partake in other opportunities to help advance your own neighborhood and large community.

We should recognize that we have talents that could benefit our communities. 

I suggest you reach out to your community beyond your own organization. Doing so promotes your credibility, reflects well on the organization that provides your cert, reflects well on your company and benefits the people you help.

I suggest you publish, speak, mentor, visit outside organizations, and offer to answer questions from the public. We security professionals often come from a technical background. You may have been managing networks, working at "help desks," writing public policy, cranking out computer code, developing crypto solutions, hardening physical security, conducting background investigations for personnel offices. Many of us have introverted personalities. We hunker down at our desks, do our thing, and (let's admit it) we can be a bit "geeky."

But we should recognize that we have talents that could benefit our communities. You can share your expertise if you -- join a writers' bureau and write a short article once, for example, or twice a year volunteer to visit your local school (perhaps where your own children attend). Speak on career opportunities in the field, offer to give a talk at a conference, teach a short course at the public library or present at your place of worship. These are easy ways to reach out to the community beyond your own workplace.

I see the greatest need for such community outreach in high schools and junior high schools that serve in the hard core inner city. Youngsters in these schools benefit from outside visitors who can inspire them to pursue college education and professional opportunities, and you can motivate them to avoid entanglements with drugs, pregnancy, crime, gangs and the other negative pressures they face. You can help build self-worth through contributing to the community and to the world.

Contact the organization that granted your certification. If you are not certified, contact your local schools, libraries, senior centers, youth centers, local associations, and other similar organizations. Perhaps you could contact the public affairs office in your company. These sources can point you in the right direction.

Then pursue the path that inspires you the most.

John R. Rossi is a Professor of Information Assurance (IA) at the US National Defense University, a component of the US Department of Defense. He has been a CISSP since 2001, a certified Information Systems Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP) since 2003, and an instructor of the CISSP Examination Preparation Course since 2002. Prior to joining the University faculty, he was a computer scientist for information security, research, and training with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Headquarters. He publishes regularly in professional trade magazines, world-wide, and is interviewed for his vision of the evolving security field.

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