Cybersecurity workforce development: A Public/Private Partnership that enhances cybersecurity while giving hands-on SOC experience to students

TekStream's Johnson and Splunk's Prevost on Tapping Into Student Talent for the SOC
Bruce Johnson, senior director, enterprise security, TekStream, and Mary Lou Prevost, group vice president, U.S., SLED, Splunk

The expanding threat landscape has evolved for state and local government entities as well as higher education institutes. Mary Lou Prevost, group vice president of U.S., State, Local Government and Education at Splunk, and Bruce Johnson, senior director, enterprise security at TekStream, highlighted the critical role of student involvement in cybersecurity initiatives, which not only enhance the institutions' cybersecurity capabilities but also provide hands-on experience to the students.

"It's a mistake to assume that state and higher-educated education entities are monolithic," Johnson said. Both these sectors share many vulnerabilities and have similar challenges in boosting defense - including hiring and retaining a skilled workforce. "They don't have this elaborate budget to hire all the people that they would like to hire. So as soon as they have invested a year or three into an individual, they are plucked off by the private sector because they can pay more," Prevost said.

In this video interview with Information Security Media Group at RSA Conference 2024, Prevost and Johnson also discussed:

  • Unique cybersecurity challenges faced by different educational institutions;
  • How a student-powered SOC at LSU has improved detection and response - and alleviated workforce challenges - in a program that uses student talent in operational security roles who collaborate with technology providers and state and local governments;
  • How a shared SOC model can scale.

Prevost leads a team to drive successful outcomes across cybersecurity, observability, ITOPS and DevOps with the data platform built for the cloud. She has more than 25 years of leadership experience and has worked at Palo Alto Networks and CA Technologies.

Johnson is responsible for managing and growing a security team around Splunk SIEM and providing solutions in the context of Splunk Enterprise Security and ITSI. He has more than 30 years of leadership experience at major companies such as Oracle, TIBCO Software and Sybase.

About the Author

Mathew J. Schwartz

Mathew J. Schwartz

Executive Editor, DataBreachToday & Europe, ISMG

Schwartz is an award-winning journalist with two decades of experience in magazines, newspapers and electronic media. He has covered the information security and privacy sector throughout his career. Before joining Information Security Media Group in 2014, where he now serves as the executive editor, DataBreachToday and for European news coverage, Schwartz was the information security beat reporter for InformationWeek and a frequent contributor to DarkReading, among other publications. He lives in Scotland.

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