LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Military veterans are back in training in Arkansas, and while they have left the front lines of active duty, they are now getting ready for a cyberwarfare battle.
Scott Anderson is a retired Air National Guard Commander and is now the executive director of the Forge Institute in Little Rock.
When asked how big a threat cyber attacks are for the nation’s security, as well as for state and local governments and businesses, Anderson said it was difficult to answer.
“I would say what are we comparing it to, it’s different than a nuclear threat, but I would say it could be as significant,” he explained.
The Forge Institute handles all things cyber for businesses, individuals, and in this case, a training academy for veterans.
“I have heard for the first time in our nation’s history there are some serious adversaries out there that are looking at the private sector,” Anderson explained.
Fighting in this cyber war is a tour of duty for which some veterans are eager to sign up. They are learning to be cybersecurity experts, spotting and identifying online threats and attacks that harm communities and businesses in the United States.
Marine Corps veteran Tony Loukota teaches classes at the institute. He said his biggest fear is people and that it boils down to people being untrustworthy and using computers as weapons, crossing enemy lines.
Another veteran Dugan Stem, served in the Army and was formerly an analyst with the National Security Administration. He’s familiar with cyber adversaries but is now ready for battle in the private sector, and he said the new training he is getting reflects knowledge he gained in the military.
“Analytical skills that I needed there, but now I have the hands-on cyber training that you would need,” Stem said of his new training.
The Forge Institute claims this training will help these veterans to get a civilian job, and according to Anderson, there are plenty.
“Last I heard there were like 3.2 million openings in cybersecurity jobs across the country,” he said, noting that most of those are not entry-level and that their students will qualify for experienced positions and likely get them. “I would say there’s a 99.9% chance they’re going to get a job.”
So look for more military veterans to head to the internet battlefield, breaking codes, building firewalls and saying “access denied” to cyber enemies.