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The Cyber Jack Podcast: Entering the New Cyber Workforce - Arctic Wolf, Ryenn White

In this episode of The Cyber Jack Podcast, we sat down with Ryenn White, Triage Security Analyst Intern at Arctic Wolf, to dive into what it's like to be up-and-coming in the cyber industry, cyber education, the opportunity to grow as an intern, and how generational diversity will change the industry for the better.

[automated transcript for accessibility and your reading leisure]

Jack 00:04

Today Ryan White, Triage Security Analyst Intern at Arctic Wolf, joins us to talk about the state of the young workforce, learning the craft of cyber, and generational diversity, all this and more on The Cyber Jack Podcast.

Ryan, thanks so much for joining us today, really excited to speak with someone up-and-coming in the industry. We'd like to start things off with how you got into cybersecurity, and what makes you so passionate about the profession.

Ryenn White 00:40

Absolutely. So initially, I was actually interested in law and criminal justice, but I knew I had this high aptitude and interest in technology. And it just so happened that cybersecurity was almost too perfect, I have a mix of those two interests. But I still get to be involved in protecting people and investigating crimes of a sort. But I also get to exercise the very technical side of my skills. But in a more broad sense, I suppose I pursue cybersecurity because I believe people have an intrinsic right to privacy and security that they're born with, which goes beyond their inalienable human rights and extends throughout our age of technological innovation. So, I suppose I'm committing myself to a career in cyber in order to not only ensure that that right is respected, but prioritized.

Jack 01:30

That's great. We're really excited to hear about your experiences so far in the industry, and get your thoughts on some of the top talent challenges in cyber.

Cyber education has really evolved over the past five years. Now, we're seeing people go to school for degrees, specifically in cyber. Can you talk to us about how you see this new wave of talent, integrating with the existing workforce,

Ryenn White 01:55

It's interesting to speak on education and cybersecurity, because many of the seasoned professionals that I've worked with transition towards security over the scope of a career, when they were pursuing their higher education. It wasn't common to have access to a cybersecurity degree. It's a huge shift in the population of people who are pursuing the field. You have those who have had many respectable years in the professional world with a deep understanding of business operations and the criticality of secure data -- while we also have those entering the field with an education in the subject that we received off the bat, which we are extremely lucky for. And I think it's going to make for an incredible dynamic between the two populations working together and will really benefit the field and how well we do from a security standpoint in the coming decades due to the diversity of thought and experience.

Jack 02:44

Absolutely. Diversity of thought is critically important if we want the industry to have a well rounded workforce. Let's shift gears a bit and talk about your experience so far in your current role at Arctic Wolf. What kind of work are you doing as a triage security analyst intern? And what are your impressions of how people can grow inside the company?

Ryenn White 03:07

I'm on a team of frontline analysts that see and mitigate or escalate all of the anomalous or malicious security event alerts that we receive. So, from something as simple as a failed login attempt to something as critical as ransomware -- I'll see it and respond. And Arctic Wolf has an incredible diversity of teams that support each other in analyzing and responding to all of these events. And we work closely together across the organization to ensure that we're responding to customer needs quickly and optimally. Something that's quite nice about interning at Arctic Wolf, is the genuine work that they give us to do.

I know there's kind of like a long standing joke about interns on on coffee runs and things like that. But the interns here, through our work, we're put on the same level of work and alerts as full-time employees. And it's really incredible to gain that experience because that's what college students value internships for -- so heavily -- is getting the experience getting the real world hands on experience combating these security events, and really learning from those above us and those who are mentoring us. And getting the hands-on experience with real alerts and real companies and conversing in real-time with our clients and our customers is just incredible experience and all that you could really ask for out of an internship. Also something great about interning at Arctic Wolf is the the way that I've I've been introduced to how lateral and upward growth within the company is very popular. Arctic Wolf really promotes and prioritizes moving their talent upward throughout the company. So, growing and advancing an employee's career at Arctic is something that's really prioritized here and something that is offered through trainings and certifications and all these resources that we have for the employees to be able to move upwards in on the job ladder within the company.

Jack 05:09

It's great to hear about a company that is heavily investing in bringing up new cyber talent.

And final question, as a woman coming up in the industry, what is your perspective on how we can work to ensure we are identifying, hiring and supporting underrepresented groups in cyber?

Ryenn White 05:29

I think we're seeing incredible growth in the number of typically underrepresented groups joining the industry, the majority of the problem comes from traditional principle.

I've personally been told that it was surprising for me to be in the field because, and I quote, women are simply not interested in that kind of thing. And it's an incredible misconception.

And the only way to mitigate this sort of thought is from the source. When I was a child, my parents never made it seem that there was anything I couldn't do, or anything that wasn't for me. I told them that I wanted to be an astronaut, or the president and they said, "Okay, easy." And I cherish this aspect of my upbringing so deeply, because not everyone has the chance to experience this to no fault of their own. But once these people are grown, it's more difficult to change the way that they subconsciously think about these things. And that's why a large part of the change we have to enact to promote diversity is generational.

But for the time being, something that I've seen companies be extremely successful in is internal lateral transitions of underrepresented groups from one group in the company to another. For example, from insurance to cybersecurity insurance, or sales to security consulting.

We've all heard about the lack of talent and worker shortage in cyber. But I think we all know, in all honesty, it's untrue. We're just looking in the wrong places. Of course, those who are young and received degrees in security with good heads on their shoulders are going to fill the roles. But what about the person who's been working with your company for 20 years, and knows the ins and outs of everything there is to know about, per se, one of your applications, or the person in marketing who can help with security awareness training to get truly get employees engaged and passionate about this kind of thing? We have to look beyond the traditional answers to get the most valuable workforce. And I think we'll find our success, posture and security much stronger than it ever has been, if we identify talent in the right places where it truly already exists.

Jack 07:37

There it is. Ryan, thank you so much for being on the show. We look forward to seeing how you progress in your career. For all of our listeners, we'll see you next time.



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