Russ Johnson, President & CEO of Merchants Information Solutions

We live in a world that is more connected than ever before. The digital reach of technology touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life, whether we realize it or not.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and it is the perfect time to discuss cybersecurity, and share valuable tips and resources from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Cyber Security Alliance to stay safe online and increase your company’s resiliency in the event of a cyber incident.

It is also an opportune time to discuss the cybersecurity workforce shortage and how the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, along with industry experts, educational institutions and member partners, is working to address talent shortages in this vital industry sector, even as cyber attacks and data breaches increase each year.

Michael Brown, CEO at Symantec, the world’s largest security software vendor, says the demand for the cybersecurity workforce is expected to rise to 6 million globally by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million.

The need for more cybersecurity employees also explains why jobs in this field are considered the best available  — for the next seven years. A recent U.S. News and World Report survey ranked a career in information security eighth on its list of the 100 best jobs, growing at a rate of 36.5 percent through 2022.

Cybersecurity is one of five workforce development collaboratives conceptualized through the industry leadership councils of Phoenix Forward >> — the economic development initiative of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. The cybersecurity team works to address talent shortages for junior-, mid-, and senior-level security analysts and is currently executing a comprehensive action plan focused on developing stronger industry-inspired programs.

As the board of directors chair for the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Estrella Mountain Community College has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in cyber defense by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Not only does this targeted program provide students with a solid foundation of skills and hands-on experience in a cutting-edge field, but it also strengthens the Valley’s talent pipeline for an industry that is challenged by an increasing shortage of skilled professionals.

Cybersecurity is no longer seen as an optional endeavor…it’s the new normal. Safeguarding from cyber attacks, data loss and other threats will continue to be a growing concern for all. But with collaborative strategies and programs to protect the business community and grow the cybersecurity talent pipeline, we’re building the industry’s workforce of tomorrow.


Russell Johnson is President & CEO of Merchants Information Solutions, Inc. As a Greater Phoenix Chamber Board of Directors member, Johnson works to address and solve issues for members and the business community in the Valley.

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