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DSM Fellows Capstone Panel: Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Capstone Panel

During a recent DSM Fellowship Capstone presentation, guest panelists discussed cybersecurity, including the biggest cyber threats for individuals and businesses today, attracting and retaining cybersecurity talent and more. Participants included:

  • Katie Hoff, Team Leader of Cybersecurity Operations at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Andy Neller, Director of Cybersecurity Operations and Risk, HIPPA Security Official at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Erin Reese, Cybersecurity Incident Response Manager at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Blake Roth, Director of IT Security at F&G

Limiting Cyber Threats

Neller said one of the fundamental things affecting people and organizations today is the lack of sponsorship in executive support and security programs. He said change is delivered from the top down. Many organizations don’t have the luxury of executive support or awareness of cybersecurity challenges, which affects their long-term security strategies. Issues in cybersecurity often come back to executive support which can help elevate overall security programs and protect both people and organizations.

To limit cyber threats, Individuals should pay attention to fraud and crime techniques online. It’s important to keep in mind there’s no such thing as a free “lunch”, you may think something is free, but more than likely there is an exchange of information. Be cautious about what you’re giving away both in person and online. Hoff suggested using a password vault to create more complex passwords that can be stored in one place and multi-factor authentication that will help secure password and login information. Password vaults are a single place to store passwords used to login to a user's various accounts, having different passwords increases a user's security but can be cumbersome to remember. Hoff recommended downloading a password vault where those different passwords can be encrypted and stored.

Attracting + Retaining Cybersecurity Talent

Though cybersecurity is in its infancy as a career path, there are many pipelines for students to work in. Cybersecurity organizations are looking for attitude and aptitude, if they can find the right individual to develop through internal training and mentoring, that individual has potential to grow within the cybersecurity role. When companies look at nontraditional problem solvers, they could find a hidden gem who can climb the ranks with their cybersecurity team. Reese is an excellent example of this. She has an accounting degree but never worked in accounting and instead moved up the ranks in the cybersecurity field.

Finding a cybersecurity job often starts with internships that offer exposure and hands-on projects that count as real-world experience. There are also conventions individuals can attend to learn from keynote speakers and participate in classes and competitions. Many cybersecurity professionals find learning from YouTube videos is also helpful. There are large aspects of cybersecurity that are not technical, but that leverage soft skills. For those interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career option, do not be afraid to talk with cybersecurity team members. They will have helpful insight and can discuss opportunities to help you get your foot in the door.

Watch the entire webinar below:


Looking for opportunities as a young professional in Greater Des Moines (DSM)? The DSM Fellowship program is the preeminent professional development initiative attracting, developing and retaining a diverse community of top-tier graduates to the region. You can also connect with other young professionals and emerging leaders through Young Professionals Connection (YPC) events and committees.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.