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Why Philadelphia needs to develop its information security community

And how to get involved in doing just that. (The September edition of the Philly Security Shell meetup is a good place to start.)

Here's to Philly's InfoSec scene. (Photo by Flickr user cjelli, used under a Creative Commons license)
This is a guest post by Leonardo Serrano, the organizer of the Philly Security Shell meetup.
One of the dominant conversations around the future of technology today is cybersecurity. Philadelphia’s tech community is established enough that it ought to have a more connected group of leaders talking about just that subject.

Philadelphia has a surprising collection of internet privacy experts living here. (Read this Philly story from July for context.) Our hacker culture runs deep, from the 1993 inception of the Philly 2600 chapter and the annual PumpCon hacker conference, making it as old as DEF CON, to today’s vibrant civic hacking scene. Local universities, notably Temple and Drexel, are embracing the need for more InfoSec professionals and now offer programs designed to help their students succeed in InfoSec careers.
But for all our connectivity as a tech scene, with all the technical meetup groups and startup demo days and coworking space socials, that subgroup of people working in the industry still needs a place to come together regularly. Because for all the talk of the cybersecurity focus in the D.C.-Baltimore region, wherever there are tech businesses, there is a need for information security expertise. It’s a reality of today.
That’s why I helped the Philly Security Shell monthly meetup (Shell for short) and why I think we should pay more attention to the Philly-area InfoSec scene.
Thanks to Devnuts, the Northern Liberties coworking space that hosts us, and Applied Trust, a recently acquired Colorado-based security firm looking to open a Philly office, we hope to come together monthly and bring this community together, in addition to pushing us all to stay on top of trends. On Sept. 17, we’ll be talking about careers in the sector, whether you share what you do or want to learn what you could do.
Closing the talent gap in information security is not solely an issue for Philadelphia, it is a global issue. But we can do our part here. The local tech community is reaching out to colleges and universities, so let’s add InfoSec as a point of pride for what we’re growing here. Helping individuals starting out in the field is an important step to closing the disparity.
The new wave of online resources and university programs can only meet some of the need. Incoming information security professionals are required develop higher-level skills and demonstrate their experience.
In their free time they’ll need to learn from senior members of the community and seek out ways to improve independent of their day-to-day jobs. Currently, training is a very expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. With the amount of talent that already exists in Philadelphia, Shell wants to make it possible for the community to pool its resources and have a say in how InfoSec education evolves.

Companies: Devnuts

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