Cyber Talk Radio: Booz Allen Hamilton Expands Cybersecurity Office in San Antonio (Part 2)

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, with Mark Rydell and Vincent Valdespino from Booz Allen Hamilton - Episode 144 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, June 29, episode 144 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Mark Rydell and Vincent Valdespino, principals at Booz Allen Hamilton, to further discuss their expanding presence in San Antonio, including hiring and training local cyber talent.

In last week’s episode, we talked with Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) VP Bob MIller about more higher level topics. In this episode, we’re going to get more into the nitty gritty world of cybersecurity, even though a large part of this work is confidential. How did our guests find their way to working in cybersecurity? Mark served in the Air Force, retired and started at BAH, where the military gave him plenty of connections. Vince, a San Antonio native, worked all over in cybersecurity at the Air Force, and then moved back here after. Interestingly enough, in a previous Cyber Talk Radio episode, we had on Dyamie Baker, Air Force Technical Sergeant, to discuss cyber recruiting for the Air Force. We’re here to talk about the fact that here’s a new cybersecurity office at BAH in SA, but how does BAH even describe cybersecurity? Since the cyber world is broad, they divide it into three large areas: Risk management, cyber warfare and resiliency platforms. WIthin these areas, they focus a lot on macro-level strategy and processes. They are also dealing with a wide spectrum of talent, both big-picture planning and hands-on people. It’s great that San Antonio has such a good assortment of talent, but sometimes it’s worthwhile to invest in talent yourself and train them for the long term. BAH now has 34 undergraduate interns on staff here in San Antonio, not even including their CyberPatriot interns, a program in which they give 4-year paid internships to the top 3 winners of the San Antonio Mayor’s Cyber Cup! Teamwork is important for learning both the hard and soft skills needed to work in cybersecurity, which CyberPatriot prepares students for in the competitive cybersecurity team sport.

After the break, we continue the conversation about bringing in high school graduates to BAH for a 4-year internship program to invest in young talent. Mark and Vincent were really impressed with the high maturity levels and strong work ethics of students right out of high school. Since internships should really be meaningful for both parties, now is the right time to trust them to do valuable and meaningful work to get them excited about their futures, instead of just grabbing coffee and snacks!

We also chat about artificial intelligence and cybersecurity — these new technologies are coming fast and becoming increasingly useful! What’s really important is that users be aware how new technologies can be easily used against them. To stay on top of your security, you should always be playing defense, be sure to be using two-factor authentication, and that you are regularly changing your passwords. BAH currently has teams training models to figure out risk to be proactive about cybersecurity. Just be aware, humans are almost always the weakest link in your organization’s security. Even smart users can make mistakes, so always be on the lookout!

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about Booz Allen Hamilton’s involvement within the city of San Antonio.

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