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James Bond and the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Experts

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I was able to get out of the house over the weekend to see the 23rd installment in the James Bond series: Skyfall.  While my colleague Ross wrote an excellent post on Nextgov's Tech Insider last week about the real-world implications of the film, I couldn’t help but wonder if the movie could inspire and help to groom the next generation of cybersecurity leaders the nation so desperately needs.

After being shot in Turkey while on top of a train and thought dead, Bond returns to an MI6 that has changed, with dozens of people working on computers underground after a security breach leads to an explosion at MI6 and the names of several secret agents are released. He later meets super sleuth Q, who Bond immediately writes off as being young and inexperienced. “Youth is no guarantee of innovation,” Bond says, to which Q replies, “I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.”

Hord Tipton, executive director of (ISC)2, said Tuesday that the film draws attention to the importance of having a cybersecurity workforce capable of preventing and responding to cyberattacks. “If one follows the trail that led to the breach, the file encryption was broken when the supervisor’s office was broken into,” Tipton said. “This only reinforces the fact that the human factor plays a significant role in defending against cyber attacks and often is a leading contributor to the exploit.”

And while the cyber threats portrayed in the new Bond film are very real, one of the greatest challenges for cybersecurity going forward is having the workforce necessary to effectively prevent and respond to such attacks. Still, Tipton noted that he hopes the movie will help draw attention to the urgency of cybersecurity and inspire more young people to enter the career field.

“The more we can present cybersecurity in an intriguing light, the more we will capture the interest of young people,” he said. “After all, there is hardly a better way to draw attention to an issue than to put Bond to task. I just hope that kids who are inspired by this film enter and proceed down the white hat path.”

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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