insperity-ogThis week’s NVTC member guest blog post is by Kelly Yates, vice president of Service Operations at Insperity. Yates shares five key priorities outlined in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) recently-released Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released its Strategic Enforcement Plan through the year 2021, which outlines its priorities for the coming years.

In this plan, one of the areas of focus is a grouping the agency refers to as “emerging and developing workplace issues” – an ever-evolving subject, which can be challenging to navigate. From qualification standards and inflexible leave to discriminatory practices, typically, these complaints parallel societal issues that are also gaining a bigger spotlight in the media.

Here are five areas employers should watch carefully as they start their new year:

1. Discrimination against those with disabilities

The EEOC continues to broaden its definition of what constitutes a disability. Under the EEOC’s new plan, the agency is narrowing its focus to give priority to the areas of job qualification standards and inflexible leave policies to better protect disabled employees.

Qualification standards

A qualification standard is how the employer defines who is qualified to be hired for a particular job. This means that job descriptions could fall under scrutiny if there are unnecessary physical qualifications placed on applicants.

For example, if your job description says that applicants must be able to lift 20 pounds, but there is an accommodation that could be provided where lifting wouldn’t be required, it may not be reasonable to use this as a qualifier when making hiring decisions.

Inflexible leave policies

There is no clear cut definition of whether a leave policy is flexible or inflexible. But typically, any policy that takes a definitive stance on the time limitations of a leave will be labeled as inflexible by the EEOC.

For example, an inflexible policy might state: “You must be 100 percent healed to return to work when a 12-week FMLA leave ends, or you will be terminated.”

Leave policies require careful attention to the language used to ensure that they cannot be interpreted as inflexible and have a one-size-fits-all approach. And, these situations require an interactive dialogue between employers and employees to understand what return-to-work accommodations may need to be made, such as granting additional time off work or the ability to telecommute for a specified time period.

Even a policy that says that employees aren’t allowed to work remotely could be deemed as inflexible, if, based on their disabilities and the nature of their job duties, it would be a reasonable accommodation to allow them to work from home.

This is one of the biggest risk areas for employers. It’s one of the most challenging to work through because there is not a definitive manual on the topic. Each situation has to be handled individually and based upon its own merits – not based upon how the last case was treated.

2. Accommodating pregnancy-related limitations

Gender equality in the workplace has been in the spotlight in recent years. One area that the EEOC has weighed in on heavily has been removing pregnancy as a barrier for equal treatment in the workplace.

Employers are advised to treat pregnant employees as they would treat any other employee who has any other temporary medical condition. Consider all accommodation requests by engaging in an interactive dialogue with the employee and make necessary job modifications as specified by the employee’s medical provider.

For example, accommodations may include altered breaks and work schedules (e.g., breaks to rest or use the restroom), permission to sit or stand, ergonomic office furniture, shift changes, elimination of marginal job functions and permission to work from home for a specified time period.

If a woman isn’t able to work during her pregnancy, she may be eligible for time off not only under FMLA, but also under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Pregnancy complications may be covered under the ADA as a temporary disability.

These types of accommodations help to keep barriers neutralized so that women can continue to progress in their careers while pregnant. And, these accommodations can also help ward off potential discrimination claims.

3. Protecting LGBT from discrimination based on sex

If you look up the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you won’t see LGBT as a category of protection. But the agency’s recent interpretation has been that it falls into the broad category of discrimination based on sex.

To avoid EEOC discrimination charges, you must treat LGBT employees as you would all other employees. If employees come to you with complaints, make sure to treat the complaint seriously, and ensure that a prompt and thorough investigation is undertaken.

Share the outcome of the investigation with the employee, and discuss resolution options. Then, be sure to follow up with the employee regularly after the issue is resolved to ensure that no new concerns have arisen. This also conveys to your employee that you have an open door to ongoing communication.

Work toward making sure that your workplace is a comfortable environment for all employees.

4. Clarifying the employment relationship and workplace rights

Temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractors and the on-demand economy are all changing the dynamic of the employer/employee relationship.

For example, let’s say you hire five temporary workers from a staffing agency. The agency pays these employees so they aren’t your “employees of record” for purposes of your payroll taxes, etc. However, because these workers are conducting work on your premises and for your business, including engaging with your employees, as an employer, you may be deemed to be controlling the “terms and conditions of the employees” work environments. Therefore, you must ensure that these workers are treated in compliance with EEO laws, just as you would for all employees.

Say, for instance, one of your employees or managers harasses a temporary agency worker. The temporary worker could file an EEOC claim against your business, even though you’re not his or her employer of record. And, if the agency deems that the worker’s complaint has merit, you could be liable to make financial settlements to resolve the complaint.

Just because workers aren’t on your payroll as full-time, permanent employees, it doesn’t mean you are absolved of responsibility for ensuring that they are treated fairly under the law.

5. Addressing discriminatory practices against Muslims

In the midst of global terrorist attacks, the EEOC believes there may be an increase in discriminatory actions against people who are Muslim, Sikh, or of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent (or those perceived to be a part of those groups).

In an effort to get out in front of this, the EEOC is giving priority consideration to these cases.

First and foremost, hiring managers must understand that national origin or religion should never be used as a factor in any hiring or employment decision.

You may think that everything is fine because you aren’t hearing any complaints or concerns from employees. But often, employees are hesitant to file complaints because they think doing so will jeopardize their jobs. In these cases, they may wait to bring forward a concern until it has escalated to a point where they have already decided to involve an outside agency or attorney.

Your managers should take extra steps to vocalize and demonstrate their commitment to the company’s open door policy so that employees aren’t afraid to come to them with their concerns.

Also, ensuring that you regularly conduct discrimination and harassment prevention training for all employees and that you have clear policies with a zero-tolerance for discrimination and harassment in-place are important preventative steps for employers to take.

Understand the risks and move forward thoughtfully

While the EEOC provides information for employers on their website, employers are often confused as to how each law and regulation should be interpreted and applied to their specific workplace. As you navigate through issues in these areas, it is advisable to work closely with HR experts, legal counsel or a professional employer organization (PEO), who are well-versed and experienced at preventing and resolving workplace complaints.

Keep in mind that if an EEOC charge is filed and the agency begins an investigation of your company, it could quickly become a huge disruption to your employees and to your business overall.

Here are a few possible outcomes:

  • On average, it takes at least a year for a charge to be resolved.
  • There can be disruptions if EEOC investigators come on-site to interview employees and review your company’s documents.
  • The EEOC doesn’t have to notify your business when it contacts your employees or former employees for interviews.
  • The investigation can impact the morale and productivity of your workforce.
  • There are huge monetary impacts for having to defend against and resolve the complaint.
  • A “cause finding” by the EEOC can become a matter of public record, which impacts your reputation and credibility as an employer.
  • If the EEOC finds cause for a complaint, typically, your business will have to routinely provide reports to the agency and comply with ongoing requirements, such as employee training – usually for three to five years.
  • If the EEOC finds cause for a complaint, you may be required to post notices throughout the workplace to inform employees that your company was found to have engaged in a discriminatory practice.

If your business is charged in one of the areas from the strategic enforcement plan, it’s important to take it seriously and respond appropriately. Consider consulting with an HR expert or employment counsel on how to proceed.

Learn more about how to protect your business by downloading Insperity’s complimentary e-book, Employment Law: Are You Putting Your Business at Risk?

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This week’s guest blog post is by Norm Snyder, partner at Aronson, LLC. Snyder is also chair of NVTC’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee. Snyder shares highlights and lessons learned from the Committee’s All Star Seed/Early Stage Investor Panel that took place on Nov. 15.

aronson-llc1 v2Can seed, early stage and angel investment capital be found in the D.C. metro area? This question and others were discussed by NVTC’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee’s engaging All Star Seed/Early Stage Investor Panel on Nov. 15, with some of the area’s most active early stage investors.

Moderated by Aronson Partner Norm Snyder, the panelists included Ed Barrientos, “super-angel” investor and entrepreneur CEO of Brazen, Steve Graubart, CFO of 1776, John May, founding partner of New Dominion Angels, Liz Sara, angel investor and entrepreneur and chair of the Dingman Center, and Tom Weithman, managing director of CIT GAP Funds and CIO of Mach37.

During the event, panelists discussed their recent experiences, desired investee profiles and offered practical advice to an audience of start-up entrepreneurs engaged in navigating the challenging early stage investment world. While the general consensus is that early stage capital is available in the D.C. metro area, it takes persistence and hard work for entrepreneurs to successfully attract sufficient investment from the right investors.

According to Weithman, over 100 companies have been funded in Virginia by CIT with a focus on tech, fin-tech, cyber and life sciences. However, he stated there is a dearth of seed funds generally available for cyber. Sara stated that approximately 15 deals were funded in the last year by her Dingman Angel group. Barrientos has made significant angel investments in a number of companies and has raised venture capital funds for Brazen. May stated that almost every deal that should be funded is funded, but it is rare for one angel to fund the entire deal. Graubart said 1776 has made 30 investments to-date with a focus on regulated industries such as ed-tech, health IT, fintech, smart cities and transportation.

So how does an investor stand out in the crowd of early stage companies?

Panelists offered a range of suggestions. Research potential investors – plenty of information is available to find out what they are interested in. Don’t waste your time and theirs chasing investors not interested in your company’s profile. For early stage, investors are betting first on the entrepreneur and their team and not on a single idea or concept, which is likely to evolve several times before it goes to market. Put together a passionate team with strong domain experience and the ability to sell themselves to attract investors, customers and future team members. Remember, the team should include an experienced advisory board with strengths and experiences that compliment and extend the abilities of the entrepreneurs. Put together well thought out and concise pitches and applications.

Be persistent – get in front of groups of investors. Warm referrals tend to get looked at first, so use your advisors to help you get noticed and invest time building relationships. Be able to demonstrate market acceptance and traction. Be coachable; you may be the “master” of your technology, but each successful start-up faces different challenges and there’s a lot to learn. Early stage entrepreneurs shouldn’t focus on trying to get the “highest” valuation – high valuations can scare away very qualified investors and may lead to future disastrous down rounds. Convertible debt, instead of preferred stock, can help take the focus off the subjective valuation issue for early stage companies.

Most importantly, the closing advice to attendees: be passionate and persistent and make sure you enjoy what you do!

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Here on the NVTC blog, we continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3The 2016 Capital Cybersecurity Summit was highlighted by its keynote speakers:  Northrop Grumman Corporate Vice President and Northrop Grumman Mission Systems President Kathy Warden and RSA President Amit Yoran.

In her keynote, Warden discussed the evolution of cybersecurity as the “Fifth Domain,” a fundamental element, permeating all aspects of our daily lives. She stressed the critical need to fill cybersecurity positions in Virginia and the opportunities for public, private and academic sectors to partner together to find creative solutions to address these hiring shortages. View the full video of Warden’s remarks here:

Yoran reinforced the evolution of cybersecurity in his keynote and, like Warden, referenced the expansion of the cyber threat area into business and our daily lives. He stressed the need to develop new flexible, perimeter-less cybersecurity to meet growing threats from mobile and IoT expansion. Yoran explained that the Greater Washington region, with its unmatched research and expertise, is equipped to meet these new cyber demands. In fact, according to Yoran, the region has the potential to be “Security Valley.” View Yoran’s keynote here:

 

Lights…camera…Cybersecurity Summit! View the Summit’s photo gallery here.

What are you doing on February 15, 2017? NVTC is hosting its first-ever Capital Data Summit in Tysons Corner! Learn more!

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Here on the NVTC blog, we continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3Did you catch the Capital Cybersecurity Summit’s opening panel, Collaborating for Cyber Success? Panel participants included Invincea CEO Anup Ghosh, Forcepoint Chief Strategy Officer and President, Federal Division, Ed Hammersla and Tenable Network Security COO and Co-Founder Jack Huffard. Blue Delta Capital Partners Co-Founder Mark Frantz moderated.

The panel highlighted the exponentially beneficial cross-flow between government and commercial cybersecurity and discussed the Greater Washington region’s deep and diverse digital security assets – cutting-edge cyber products, pre-eminent talent and rich intellectual capital – that can be applied in the public and private sectors alike.

One of the reoccurring themes discussed is the need for a public relations paradigm shift when it comes to cybersecurity in the Greater Washington region. Area companies must not only promote their federal clients and solutions, but they must also promote the problems they are solving across all other sectors – and across the globe. The speakers agreed the region’s best cyber asset is the unmatched talent and companies must continuously promote and engage this talent to keep them in Greater Washington.

Panelists also discussed the historical 2016 elections and their cybersecurity implications. In every sector cyber threats are permeating all aspects of business and panelists agreed the future judicial implications of cybersecurity will be huge. After all, according to the panelists, cyber risk is business risk.

Why is now the best time to launch a cyber startup in the Greater Washington region? Check out full video coverage of the panel to find out why:

Read Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode coverage of the panel here.

Lights…camera…Cybersecurity Summit! View the Summit’s photo gallery here.

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Our latest NVTC member guest blog post is by ePlus Chief Security Strategist Tom Bowers. Bowers discusses the latest advancements in machine learning and its impact on cybersecurity.

eplusAccording to a Ponemon Institute study released in March, 63% of survey respondents said their companies had been hit by “advanced (cyber) attacks” within the last year. Only 39% felt their company was highly effective at detecting cyber attacks. And worse, only 30% considered their organizations highly effective at preventing them.

A few weeks ago, I moderated a panel discussion at the ePlus/EC-Council Foundation CISO Security Symposium in National Harbor, Md. Our purpose was to gather together leading security experts to get their insights on the latest security threats and to discuss ideas and strategies. CISOs from many different industries were there. And as you might imagine, given the importance of cybersecurity today, the event was well-attended.

During the session, we covered various pressing topics in the realm of cybersecurity. But the most intriguing “future-looking” trend we discussed was machine learning.

That’s not a surprise because machine learning is a hot topic in tech circles. But it’s more than just the latest buzzword in the industry, and vendors are responding accordingly. In March, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced the availability of HPE Haven OnDemand, their cloud platform “machine-learning-as-service” offering. In October, IBM, whose Watson system is known as a leader in artificial intelligence (AI), changed the name of their predictive analytics service to “IBM Watson Machine Learning” to emphasize their direction “to provide deeper and more sophisticated self-learning capabilities as well as enhanced model management and deployment functionality within the service.”

Simply speaking, machine learning refers to the ability of computers to, in effect, “learn and grow in knowledge” based on past experience. Machine learning begins with a base set of teaching material and through subsequent experiences (i.e. the processing of more and more data sets and responses), the machine learning algorithm adds to the base material—it’s body of knowledge, so to speak—and the program becomes more intelligent. As a result, machine learning programs are able to answer questions and to make predictions with increasing accuracy.

What are the implications for security operations?

Machine learning has made tremendous strides in the last few years. From self-driving vehicles to medical research to marketing personalization to data security, machine learning algorithms are being used to churn through huge stores of data to identify patterns and anomalies, enabling data-driven decisions and automation. And that capability continues to mature and extend into the area of cybersecurity.

For years, those of us in IT security have worked tirelessly to increase the maturity of security operations in our companies. We’ve strived—in the face of increasing complexity and rising threats—to advance our information security capabilities beyond simple “detect and respond” reactive methods to risk-based “anticipate and prevent” proactive approaches. Machine learning is playing a role in that mission today and will play an even larger part in the years to come.

As more security vendors incorporate machine learning engines into their solutions, security operations will change. For example, log scanning—a tedious, labor-intensive effort—will become automated. Instead of a security analyst scrolling SIEM output, scrutinizing correlated events and analyzing their meaning, machine learning engines will parse huge log files, identify anomalies, and make decisions in near real-time.

In addition, machine learning engines will identify trends, threats, and incidents much faster. Instead of waiting on a security analyst to conclude their analysis, machine learning engines will parse reams of security data collected from enterprise machines, such as servers, smartphones, tablets, network devices, applications, and others. Through big data analytics and machine learning, this machine data will be searched and analyzed to gain insight into what is happening inside corporate networks, enabling trends to be exposed and incidents to be identified much faster than they are today.

But more importantly, machine learning engines will be able to “hunt” for exploits. By combining input from learned behaviors, known indicators of compromise (IOCs), and external threat intelligence feeds, machine learning engines will be able to predict malicious events with a high degree of accuracy, preventing major incidents before they materialize or become widespread problems. And we are seeing examples of this capability today. For instance, the cyber solution Endgame operates at the microprocessor level, analyzing pre-fetch instruction cache searching for zero-day exploits so they can be detected and eliminated long before an incident occurs.

Not to be overlooked is the ability of machine learning to enable automated responses. Machine learning engines not only can detect malicious behavior faster, based on IOCs and “experience,” but also can take action to eliminate the threat early in the kill chain without requiring human involvement. This enables incidents to be avoided proactively and lessens the workload on short-handed staff.

The benefits of machine learning are clear and compelling. But many security professionals are asking, “Is the technology really ready?” There are valid concerns, such as the validity of data from external threat intelligence feeds into machine learning engines and the potential for machine learning algorithms to be attacked and fed false models, but work continues by vendors and academia alike to sort out those questions. In fact, Georgia Institute of Technology just launched a new research project to study the security of machine learning systems.

Like most technology, machine learning will continue to evolve. But if expectations prove out, machine learning will transform how CISOs manage security operations within the next three years.

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Did you know?

  • Only 7% of federal employees today are age 30 or under – the lowest percentage in the last ten years
  • By 2017, 31% of federal workers will be eligible to retire
  • The government loses about 5,000 information technology employees each year

In a recent Government Executive blog post, NVTC member Susan Fallon Brown of Monster Government Solutions shared these astounding statistics and highlighted the growing opportunity for the federal government to bolster its millennial workforce and reduce overall hiring gaps with millennial talent. Here are some of the key themes she shared in the blog:

  • The importance of federal agencies being able to articulate their missions – millennials want to be a part of organizations that serve the greater good; an agency’s mission statement, often the first point of entry into an organization for a candidate, must clearly express the positive impact the agency is making
  • Digital channels are key to millennial recruitment – millennials are using social networks and digital channels in their job search more than ever before; agencies should leverage their digital channels as an extension of their recruitment efforts, utilizing clear and enticing messaging
  • Transparency and engagement are a must in the recruitment process – millennials want to be continually engaged in the hiring process. They want feedback from recruiters at all stages of the hiring process – and to hear from recruiters after the interview process, even if they didn’t get the job

Millennials make up about one-third of the workforce in Fairfax and Arlington Counties according to a 2016 Millennial Research report conducted by NVTC’s NextGen Leaders Committee. The report explored what attracts and retains millennials in organizations in Northern Virginia.

The notion of connection – millennials’ desire to feel connected to the community they live in, to their employer’s mission and charitable efforts, and to their colleagues, emerged throughout the report. Here are some interesting points from the research:

  • Millennials place strong emphasis on flexibility in their positions – in their schedule, in the physical location of their job and in their responsibilities. Instead of the amount of hours they work, millennials want to be evaluated on the quality of their output.
  • Millennials place strong value on ongoing learning and development opportunities; career progression and mentorship is highly important, even though company loyalty isn’t always a driving career factor for millennials.
  • Millennials highly value employee recognition in a variety of forms, including constructive feedback, awards, perks and promotions.
  • A company’s social responsibility efforts and commitment to being ethical is critical for millennials and a driving recruitment factor; millennials place strong value in the trust they have for their employer, their transparency and commitment to bettering the world.

Interested in learning more about recruiting and retaining millennials in our region? Read the full NextGen Leaders Millennial Research report.

Check out Government Executive’s blog here.

NextGen Leaders Millennial Graphic

Click to enlarge infographic above – just one of the interesting infographics you’ll find in the NextGen Leaders Millennial Research report

 

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Monster and Military.com Release 2016 Veterans Talent Index

November 29th, 2016 | Posted by Alexa Magdalenski in Veterans - (Comments Off)

VEI Logo SizedOn Nov. 10, Monster Worldwide Inc. and Military.com released their 2016 Veterans Talent Index survey illustrating over five years of data from Veterans and employers on Veteran recruiting, hiring and retention. Here are some of our key takeaways from the Index:

For employers, understanding Veterans’ unique experiences and skill sets is critical in recruiting and retaining Veterans. Veteran job seekers should be able to confidently articulate their own skill sets and military experiences and take advantage of resources like military skill translators and job coaching to do so.

  • 78% of employers surveyed responded that Veteran skills are relevant to civilian careers; but 48% of employers want a better translation of military skills into jobs

Employers have an opportunity to promote new career paths based on emerging technologies and areas of need. Employers should find new ways to inspire Veterans to these focus areas. Employers also have an opportunity to create programs to support hired Veterans that will set them apart from other companies.

  • 39% of Veterans are trying to figure out what to do for their next career
  • 53% of Veterans are seeking organizations that are “Veteran-friendly”
  • 43% of employers have Veteran-specific mentoring programs in place, up from 26% in 2014

Veterans are utilizing digital platforms in their job searches more than ever. Employers should continue to use on online recruiting channels and leverage the online networks of nonprofits and other organizations to reach and engage new candidates.

  • 54% of Veterans surveyed have used Facebook on their mobile device to look for jobs
  • 42% of Veterans have used Military.com as a preferred resource

The growing role nonprofits serve as a pipeline to Veteran candidates for employers was another key theme in this years’ Talent Index. Veteran candidates are working with nonprofits more than ever, alongside with Veteran Support Organizations and government agencies, to find employment opportunities. For the NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative (VEI), this reflects a growing opportunity to bolster partnerships with more member companies to work together and fill critical positions with Veterans.

Here are some of the ways VEI is leveraging opportunities in the 2016 Veterans Talent Index:

  • Hosting Veteran Recruiting Days, VETWORKING events  and transition summits at local military bases and companies in the region:
    • These events not only connect Veterans with prospective employers, they also provide a setting for companies to meet with Veterans in an important mentoring and job coaching capacity. VEI has engaged NVTC member companies across the spectrum of its programming.
      • In the last three years, over 650 Veterans have attended VEI’s Recruiting Days.
  • Building strong partnerships across the private, government and academic sectors:
    • VEI continues to galvanize a strong network including NVTC member companies, regional universities, nonprofits, policymakers, Virginia Veteran organizations like Virginia Values Veterans (V3) and military bases in the National Capital region.
  • Creating student Veteran internship opportunities:
    • The VEI Scholars Program connects student Veterans from our region’s colleges and universities with meaningful work-based experiences at NVTC member companies. Companies can identify their skill set needs and be matched with a Veteran candidate who fits those needs.
  • Promoting novatechvets.org:
    • VEI’s novatechvets.org Veteran career site (operated by Monster and Military.com) currently hosts over 7,000 open jobs at NVTC member companies and has a database of over 950,000 Veteran resumes.
    • The site also has a military skills translator for Veterans to match their skills to civilian jobs and other educational resources.

Learn more about the VEI’s mission and programs here.

Click here to view the full Monster and Military.com 2016 Veterans Talent Index survey.

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1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3We continue to share content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

The Summit’s engaging Force Multipliers to Future Cybersecurity Panel explored the Greater Washington Region’s unparalleled cybersecurity talent and the cyber workforce gaps that exist in the region. US Cyber Challenge National Director Karen Evans, MACH37 Managing Partner Rick Gordon, MITRE Innovation Area Lead for Cybersecurity Dr. George Roelke and In-Q-Tel Executive Vice President and Director of Cyber Reboot Teresa Shea participated in the panel. Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology Director Dr. Charles Clancy moderated.

Dr. Clancy opened the discussion by asking panelists what they thought was the region’s biggest cybersecurity opportunity. All panelists agreed – the region’s cyber talent and expertise are unmatched anywhere. Gordon shared that because of its cyber talent, Greater Washington is at the “center of mass” when it comes to cyber innovation, is able to compete on a global level and offer high cyber investment returns.

Shea stressed that entrepreneurs are flocking to the region to join its cyber movement, driven by their passion to solve cyber problems. Shea also noted that the region has some of the top cyber thought leadership, which is helping to fuel cyber investment and recruitment in the region.

The conversation dove deeper into the region’s cyber hiring gaps and strategies needed to combat those gaps. Some key points from the discussion:

  • By 2020, there will be a 1.5 million shortfall of cybersecurity professionals in the U.S.; this cyber hiring gap requires new recruitment promotion tactics
  • New, customized cyber training and job pathways must be created; not all cyber professionals will have the same educational and professional backgrounds. As the business and communications sides of cyber evolve today, not all cyber positions are created the same
  • The opportunity for personal growth in the cyber field, especially in the Greater Washington region, is tremendous; a personalized approach to promoting different cyber career paths is required to recruit the best talent

Dr. Clancy asked panelists which new college cybersecurity courses they think should be required today. Here are their suggestions:

  • Reverse engineering coding
  • Technology for the liberal arts
  • Mandatory cybersecurity training
  • Experiential learning

In promoting the region’s unique cyber assets, especially its talent, the panelists agreed that a fundamental public relations shift is needed. No longer is cybersecurity in the region strictly entrenched in the federal government. Cyber providers in the region are solving a vast range of problems across the public and private sectors for global clients.

As illustrated by the panelists, cybersecurity culture is in its infancy, especially in the Greater Washington region, and its evolution will be extremely exciting to watch – and shape.

Force Multipliers 1 Force Multipliers 2

Check out the full Capital Cybersecurity Summit photo gallery

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1021Capital Cybersecurity Summit Logo 3Throughout the coming weeks on the NVTC blog we’ll be sharing content from our inaugural Capital Cybersecurity Summit that took place on Nov. 2-3, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

One of the Summit’s highlights was the Investment Capital for Cybersecurity Panel, which focused on how to raise sufficient capital to fund promising cyber technologies and applications. The discussion featured Crosslink Capital Venture Partner Matt Bigge, Bessemer Venture Partners Vice President Sunil James, Blackstone CISO Jay Leek and Paladin Founder and Managing Partner Michael Steed. Raymond James Managing Director and Co-Head of Technology & Services Stefan Jansen moderated.

Jansen’s opening question for the investor panelists, “What does it take for cybersecurity startups to matter?” brought to light two themes that emerged throughout the panel: (1) to attract and maintain investors, promising cyber businesses must be inherently committed to innovation; (2) the human capital side of cyber startups and the teams that drive them are as important as the technologies themselves for investors.

Steed shared that he looks to invest in cyber companies that are disruptive in the cyber space and filling a void that solves a distinct cyber problem. James noted that his organization looks for a vitality in startups – energy for innovation that inspires engagement in all ranks of the organization and is infectious.

Bigge noted that his most successful cybersecurity investments have been made in organizations with strong founding teams that are passionate about solving their customers’ problems. Leek agreed, stating that investing in a company’s management team is just as important as the technology itself. Leek encouraged promising cyber businesses to take a deeper look into the efficiency of their operations, a critical factor for investors.

Some of the other noteworthy investment factors panelists shared included:

  • The importance of a quality and diversified revenue base for cyber startups
  • Rising cyber businesses must be able to provide ROI for their products and services after their first year
  • Cyber startups should have the ability to pinpoint opportunities for expansion within their existing customer base

View the full video from the Investment Capital for Cybersecurity Panel below and stay tuned for more Capital Cybersecurity Summit content here on the NVTC blog!

Investment Capital for Cybersecurity Panel Video: 

Check out the Capital Cybersecurity Summit photo gallery!

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leaseweb-logoThis NVTC guest blog post is written by Marc Burkels, manager of dedicated servers at LeaseWeb. LeaseWeb, an NVTC member company, is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider offering dedicated servers, CDN and cloud hosting on a global network. LeaseWeb recently exhibited at the Capital Cybersecurity Summit on Nov. 2-3, 2016.

Let’s say you want to become the new Facebook. Believe it or not, I regularly run into people who have this ambition. The number one question these new Mark Zuckerbergs ask me is which server they need.

It is always a challenge to convince them to not rush into anything. Instead, I have them sit down and tell me what they really want. Since many companies switch servers within a few months after buying and this is always time consuming (not to mention the costs), it is certainly worth your while to think well before you decide. What is the service you want to deliver? What is your workload? Does it involve large databases?

I always discuss the following 8 things to help people decide on the right hosting provider and hardware configuration of a dedicated server:

1. Business impact of downtime

What is the business impact of potential failure of your hosting environment? One of the first things to consider when selecting a dedicated server is how to deal with potential downtime. In a cloud environment, the setup of the cloud protects you against hardware failures. With a dedicated server, you know you are not sharing resources with anyone else. But since there is always a single point of failure in one server, you need to decide whether you are able to accept potential downtime – if you do not have the option to scale to multiple dedicated servers.

2. Scalability of your application

Scalability is another important issue when choosing a dedicated server. How well does your application scale? Is it easy to add more servers and will that increase the amount of end users you can service?

If it is easy for you to scale, it doesn’t matter whether you use a dedicated server or a virtual solution. However, some applications are difficult to scale to multiple devices. Making sure a database is running on multiple servers is a challenge since it needs to be synchronized over all database servers. It might even be easier to move the database to a server that has more processing capacity, RAM and storage. Moving to a cloud environment – where you can clone a server, have a copy running in production and can add a load balancer to redirect traffic to multiple servers – could also be a good option for you.

3. Performance requirements of your server

What are your performance requirements? How many users do you expect and how many servers do you potentially need? Several hardware choices influence server performance:

Processor/CPU

Generally , you can choose the amount of processors and cores in a server. It depends on the application you are running whether you will benefit from more cores (but any multi-threaded application will benefit from more cores, for instance web servers or database servers). Consider also the performance of the core defined in clock speed (MHz): some processors have a better turn-around time with less cores and more GHz per core. The advice on which processors and how many cores to choose will ideally come from someone who is managing the application or the vendor of the software. Of course, they need to also take into account the expected amount of users.

RAM

The faster the CPU and the more cores it has, the more RAM options are available to you. If you are unsure about your RAM needs, choose a server that allows you to add RAM if needed since this is relatively easy. The ranges of RAM choices, especially with double processors, are enormous.

The size of your server is important when choosing RAM, as is the latest technology. Current generation servers use DDR4-technology, which could have a positive effect on database performance. DDR4 is priced interestingly nowadays, since it is the standard.

Hard Drives

Choose a RAID set-up for your hard drives, so you are well protected against the failure of a single hard drive. Your system will still be up and running – with some performance loss – until the hard drive is replaced.

The larger the server, the more hard drive options you have. SATA drives stand for high volume but relatively low performance. SAS performs twice as well as SATA, but has a higher price and lower capacity. SAS has been succeeded by SSD, which is 50 to 100 times faster than SATA.

4. Load balancing across multiple dedicated servers

If your application can scale across multiple dedicated servers, a form of load balancing where end users are split across all available servers- is necessary. If you are running a website and traffic is rising, at some point you will need to use multiple web servers that serve a multitude of users for the same website. With a load balancing solution, every incoming request will be directed to a different server. Before doing this, the load balancer checks whether a server is up and running. If it is down, it redirects traffic to another server.

5. Predictability of bandwidth usage

The requirements in bandwidth naturally relate to the predictability of data traffic. If you are going to consume a lot of bandwidth but predictability is low, you could choose a package with your dedicated server that has a lot of data traffic included, or even unmetered billing. This is an easy way of knowing exactly how much you will be spending on the hosting of your dedicated server.

6. Network quality

As a customer, you can choose where a dedicated server is placed physically. It is important to consider the location of your end user. For instance, if your customers are in the APAC region, hosting in Europe might not be a sensible choice since data delivery will be slow. Data delivery also depends on the quality of the network of the hosting provider. To find out more about network quality, check a provider’s NOC (Network Operation Center) pages and test the network. Most hosting providers will allow you to do this.

7. Self-service and remote management

To which degree are you allowed to manage your server yourself? If you are running an application on a dedicated server, you probably have the technical skills and the knowledge to maintain the server. But do you have access to a remote management module? Most A-brand servers are equipped with remote management modules. Providers can allow you secure access to that module.

A remote management module can also help if you are in a transition from IT on premise to a hosted solution (perhaps even a private cloud solution). It can be an in-between step that will leave existing work structures intact and ease the transition for IT personnel, since they will still be able to manage their own software deployments and the customized installation of an operating system.

8. Knowledge partner

And last but definitely not least: make sure your hosting provider involves his engineers and specialists when trying to find a solution tailored to your needs. A true knowledge partner advises on best practices and different solutions. This may involve combining different products into a hybrid solution.

The above will probably give you a good idea of what to consider before renting a dedicated server. If you are looking for specific advice or need assistance, please feel free to contact the LeaseWeb team. They can help you find the solution that is right for you.

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