Frequently Asked Questions
What is CyberForward?
CyberForward is a multi-phase professional development and enablement program that aims to address the livable wage gap and a shortage of available professionals in the cyber security industry.
For individuals that want to move into careers in cyber security, it presents a pathway, with a phased approach to developing their cyber security skills, and ultimately achieving a livable wage in the industry.
For organizations that do not have enough cyber security professionals to meet the needs of their security programs, it presents an efficient way for to get the needed resources.
Both are enabled through a network of partners that work together to create a win-win for everyone involved.
Who founded CyberForward?
CyberForward was founded by Mike Gentile in March 2019.
What are the primary objectives of the program?
There are two primary objectives. The first is to give more individuals the opportunity to achieve a livable wage, and the second is getting more skilled professionals into cyber security, with the aim of lowering the current and projected resource shortage.
What are CyberForward’s Principles?
These principles are designed to help guide individuals and partners throughout their participation in the program.
Create Win/Win Situations
This program is designed to enable a positive situation for students, all partners that are involved, and for the CyberForward team. It is your responsibility to always try to create and maintain balanced win/win situations to the best of your ability.
Always Learn and Teach
Our success is dependent upon a learning and teaching model. We will teach you anything you want to know, but we ask that you give back to others what you have learned during the program.
Phased Development Approach
The development model uses phases to develop Talent Participants, as well as to support CyberForward partners in understanding how to work with Talent Participants in each phase. Try to always understand your responsibilities and expectations as a Talent Participant or partner based on this phased model.
Stay Hungry and Work Hard
The only pre-requisite for participating in the program is that you want to be here and involved. If you are involved, the ask is for you to work hard as you represent the program and everyone that will come through the program afterwards.
Act with Integrity
The program only works when everyone involved acts with integrity and honesty in every situation. This is always expected from all participants and partners in the program.
What is the CyberForward Partner Network?
This network is a collection of different groups that work together to enable the program objectives. They include:
Community Partners: Non-profits, veteran, cyber security, and leading educational organizations that aid in sourcing Talent Participants from the pools of individuals that they support.
Talent Participants: Individuals that have aptitudes and the will and determination to be successful in the program.
Mentor Partners: Professionals working in cyber security, their organizations, or associations that provide professional development and support as volunteers throughout the program phases.
Engagement Partners: These include cyber security consultancies, value added resellers, cyber technology solution companies, or staffing providers and agencies. They can refer Talent Participants to Hiring Partners for contracts, or directly hire individuals at their own organization.
Hiring Partner: Organizations that are growing their security programs and need more talent. These are organizations that can provide contract or full-time positions to Talent Participants in phases 4 and 5 of the program
How does the program work?
CyberForward is a multi-phase professional development and enablement program with a network of partners working together across 5 program phases:
Phase 1 Community Partners and the CyberForward team identify and source Talent Participants to enter the program.
Phase 2 is a 4-week training class attended by Talent Participants and supported by Mentor Partners.
Phase 3 is an internship for Talent Participants at CISOSHARE.
Phase 4 Engagement Partners engage Talent Participants on 3-month projects.
Phase 5 Engagement and Hiring Partners hire Talent Participants as employees or extend their contracts.
Is CISOSHARE a Non-Profit?
No, CISOSHARE is a leading Inc. 5000 cyber security service provider. However, CISOSHARE now partners with many non-profits who supply candidates for the program.
How does United Way OC partner with this program?
United Way OC partnered on the first cycle and original pilot of the CyberForward program, providing a lot of insight, participants and use of their facility to hold the Phase 2 class. Since then, United Way OC has continued to partner in the program and works with the CyberForward team to identify Talent Participants within Orange County, California.
Is this program accredited?
No, and this is not our focus right now because our program is so radically different than the traditional training programs for cyber security. Further, we are not an educational institution, we are a developer of cyber security professionals.
As our program grows, we may look at accreditation if it aligns to our focus, to ensure quality as more individuals and organizations participate in the program.
Why is CISOSHARE doing this?
From the beginning, CISOSHARE has infused the mentality of learning and teaching into our culture and everything we do. We saw great success in our early days transitioning individuals into cyber security using many of the techniques with this learning and teaching mindset. The CyberForward program simply added more rigor and organization to what we were already doing.
Does CISOSHARE profit from this program?
Not yet. However, eventually our goal is very much to develop a revenue stream through this program. The program creates revenue opportunity through the spread between the cost of these individuals once developed, and what organizations are willing to pay for them.
For example, we often develop individuals and make them more valuable quicker than their salaries can keep up, especially when they were previously unemployed or working in the gig economy. Even when moving them to a livable wage as they advance through the program, there is so much demand in cyber security that their value to companies willing to pay for these individuals creates this spread. We have always been open about our plan to generate revenue based on this spread, since we see it occurring more often as the program grows.
What types of work will Talent Participants perform for Hiring Partners?
Talent Participants will be provided more hands-on instruction on how to perform a role as a security or vulnerability analyst. However, below are some types of work activities to expect:
- Perform defined tasks and repeatable process steps on internal areas in analyst or engineering roles commonly found within a security program.
- Phase 4 Talent Participants are aptly suited for junior level analyst or engineer tasks and responsibilities while Phase 5 Talent Participants may stay as a junior level resource or reach an analyst level or higher depending on the individual and situation.
- Optimal areas for project and tasks assignment often include:
- Policy research, documentation and update
- Process research, documentation and update
- Performance of defined process tasks
- Performance of repeatable tasks associated with common security technologies such as GRC, DLP, Phishing and others
- Performance of repeatable tasks associated governance, risk and compliance activities, Incident mgmt. training and awareness and other core program activities
- Talent Participants are specifically trained to be third-party, policy and vulnerability analysts early in the program to serve as a base to support a myriad of common security program activities.
- Backfill or support overflow work of existing team members if properly prepared to do so.
- All CyberForward Talent Participants are trained and able to use the CyberForward app in establishing a dynamic program or progress score for a program, as well as in the performance of third-party risk assessments.
Where is this program offered?
The program will now be offered in an on-line format because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which will increase the range of locations from which individuals can participate. Previously, the program was only offered in Orange County, California, in person.
Is there an on-line version of this program?
An on-line version of the program will be offered in order to support the development of professionals during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The program originally utilized techniques that are often best served in a live format, such as the ability to see non-verbal cues during exercises. However, the improvement in virtual technology, which has been magnified and accelerated by the Coronavirus Pandemic, has enabled us to feel confident in delivering a quality program in a virtual format.
Do you think the program has been a success so far?
Despite the program constantly evolving and that it is in its infancy, it has been very successful in its two objectives of creating opportunity for willing individuals to earn a livable wage, and addressing the cyber security resource shortage in the fastest manner possible.
We have now helped multiple individuals go from being housing insecure to working in the cyber security industry with, or in the process of attaining, a livable wage. Even if these individuals were the only ones we helped, we believe the program has been a success. Just as important, we have also helped many organizations get the resources they need to improve their security program. If we can continue to help both individuals and organizations at a scale we think possible, we feel the program can be a miracle.
Are there similar programs to CyberForward?
There are some that are similar, however, they are generally either focused in addressing community needs as a non-profit, education providers, specialists in staffing, specialists in cyber security, or businesses trying to find cyber security professionals to meet their business needs. We think our program is working because we create a phased model for bringing all these groups together in a win-win for all parties involved.
What is the primary output produced by the CyberForward program?
In a nutshell, this program produces real work experience for Talent Participants and work execution for organizations with a focus to do both in the quickest manner possible.
Phase 1: Participant Identification
What experience do I need in cyber security?
None, but the program does work best with individuals that have aptitudes for success in cyber security. Most of these skills are associated with how a person learns and then how they can best teach others.
What makes the perfect Talent Participant?
The perfect Talent Participant can learn and teach quickly, commit to attend all the classes in the early phases, and must have the intention to participate in the later phases of the program. Most important, the perfect Talent Participant is almost always someone that understands the value of this opportunity, and then seizes it while constantly improving.
Do I need to be technical?
It does not hurt, but it is also not required.
Are there specific backgrounds that work best in Talent Participants?
This program is for individuals of all races, cultural backgrounds, work histories, genders, and ages.
What if I have certain roadblocks such as housing, transportation, technology access, etc?
It is up to you to identify these roadblocks before starting the program, and to work with your existing support system or agency as you had done previously. However, the CyberForward team becomes another element of your support system helping remove or reduce these roadblocks so you can focus on your development in the program.
Am I guaranteed a job in cyber security if I participate in this program?
No. During each phase of the program, only the top performers move on to later phases eventually leading to cyber security jobs. Though several individuals who don’t believe they will be a top performer in the beginning absolutely are by the later phases of the program. You won’t know until you try.
Can we participate if we already have a part time job or are a part-time student?
Yes. The program is designed so part-time workers or students can balance their obligations with program participation in the early and later phases. The class portion of the program consists of up to 5 hours per week, increasing to 10 hours per week by the intern phase.
Can we participate if we are full-time workers or students?
Only if you can commit to 5 hours per week during the class portion, increasing to 10 hours per week for the internship and later phases of the program. This is often not possible for individuals working or studying full time, unless they can allocate time to the program during business hours.
Do we get a certificate for completing the class?
You will receive a Certificate of Completion by the CyberForward Program, and while not an accredited certification, you are always able to put this on your resume. However, our focus in the program is to get you real world work experience in route to a livable wage in cyber security.
How do we sign-up for the program?
Step 2: Sign-up for a spot in an upcoming class. You will be contacted to fill out a registration form.
Step 3: Respond to any notifications by the CyberForward team, and then attend the class.
How much does the program cost for Talent Participants?
There is no charge for Talent Participants for any phase of CyberForward
What will I learn?
The class begins by discussing why cyber security is important to businesses today. It is followed by a layered approach on how to perform tasks associated with three in-demand cyber security roles including a third-party assessor, a policy analyst and a vulnerability analyst.
What is the curriculum?
Class 1: Why is Cyber Security Broken? & Implications of Corona Virus on Cyber Security
Class 2: Modern Cyber Security Explained
Class 3: Focus Roles Explained
Class 4: Focus Roles Simulated Work
What is the time commitment?
The class itself is 3 hours per week and must be attended live. In addition, there is generally 2-3 hours of homework per week. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we are temporarily offering the program on-line.
What happens if I am late to a class?
Generally, individuals are late because they are either impacted by their roadblocks or have some type of emergency. Being late is not acceptable, however the specific cause is always evaluated, and this is used in determining whether a participant can continue in the class.
What happens if I miss a class?
It is required that Talent Participants make it to all sessions to the best of their ability. In rare circumstances, a class can be made up if approved by the CyberForward team.
What is the homework?
The homework assignments are generally writing exercises, as well as video presentations involving the key cyber security topics delivered in the class. The homework is designed to test how a Talent Participant learns, as well as how they can communicate and teach these concepts in written and verbal form.
Is the homework graded?
Absolutely, using a standard grading scale. While getting a high grade is important, even more important is how a Talent Participant improves based on feedback from their mentors over time. Talent Participants are ranked against other individuals in a cohort based on both these considerations. This information is used to determine whether someone goes on to the next phase in the program.
What if I have something on my record or have used illicit drugs?
All Hiring Partners in the program require us to perform background and drug screening before a Talent Participant can perform work for an organization. Many do request clean records and drug screening results prior to performing work, however these requirements do sometimes vary from client to client.
What roadblocks do you help to remove so a Talent Participant can focus on the training?
During the program we will work with our Talent Participants to manage these roadblocks:
- Financial insecurity
- Housing insecurity
- Lack of healthcare
- Lack of access to technology
- Lack of access to the Internet
- Lack of transportation
- Lack of daycare
- Drug considerations
- Record issues
- Multiple job management
- And many more
Are these paid internships?
Talent Participants are not paid until they qualify for Phase 4, which involves 3 month projects with a partner organization that can choose to hire you or extend your contract.
What is the time commitment for the Intern phase?
Interns are asked to provide 10 hours per week in dedicated internship. With the expectation that they will have another 10+ hours of self-guided learning during this phase.
What type of work will Talent Participants do?
Talent Participants will be provided more detailed hands-on instruction on how to perform a role as a third-party risk assessor, a policy analyst, or a vulnerability analyst.
How does this work?
Select Talent Participants that successfully complete the intern phase may be offered the ability to perform real projects at client sites.
Step 1: A Hiring Partner that has a 3-month project must be identified by the CyberForward team or an authorized Engagement Partner in the program.
Step 2: Qualified Talent Participants will be able to interview for the position at the Hiring Partners.
Step 3: If selected, the Talent Participant will be required to pass a background and drug screening.
Step 4: The Talent Participant will be hired as a CISOSHARE employee in the CyberForward program.
Step 5: The Talent Participant will be onboarded at the Hiring Partner to perform the project.
Step 6: The Talent Participant will be supported by an authorized Engagement Partner, as well as the CyberForward mentor team and the internal team at the Hiring Partner.
What happens at the end of the 3-month project?
If successfully completed, a Talent Participant will enter Phase 5 of the program. In Phase 5, the resource can be extended to perform another 3-9 month project, they can be assigned to another Hiring Partner, or they can be hired directly by either CISOSHARE, partnering cyber security partners, or the Hiring Partner that initially engaged them. We cannot guarantee placement on another engagement after the first 3-month project but can provide resources to help with finding work.
How does a Talent Participant qualify for Phase 5?
At the end of an initial project in Phase 4, if successfully completed, a Talent Participant will enter Phase 5 of the program. In Phase 5, the Talent Participant can be extended to perform another 3-9 month project, they can be assigned to another Hiring Partner, or they can be hired directly by either CISOSHARE, authorized Engagement Partners, or the Hiring Partner that initially engaged them.
Does the pay increase for Talent Participants in Phase 5?
Yes, Talent Participant pay will increase as they move from phase 4 to phase 5 and as their contracts are extended through phases in the program.
What happens after Phase 5 in the program?
An ongoing healthy career in cyber security at a livable wage and a reduction in the overall cyber security resource shortage!
Can Talent Participants serve as mentors for new participants in the program?
Absolutely! As a primary program principle, all Talent Participants are expected to give back where they can as future mentors.
What is the CyberForward application?
The application is a SaaS based application that helps an organization establish a dynamic risk score, a dynamic progress score, perform risk management of its third-parties and supply chain, as well as integrate with other GRC platforms and security technologies. CyberForward resources are trained specifically on how to use this tool in their development, making an optimized full solution that marries a best practice tool with trained users.
Does my organization have to use the CyberForward application if I participate as a Hiring Partner in the program?
No, a Hiring Partner can engage CyberForward Talent Participants without the application, or use the application without CyberForward Talent Participants. However, we recommend utilizing CyberForward Talent Participants and the CyberForward application together.
What are the advantages to using the CyberForward application?
We like to think that the CyberForward application is a great solution on its own in that it is a simple workflow that focuses on positive messaging and progress, in addition to risk measurement and management.
However, historically the biggest challenge in organizations is often not with the solution itself, but instead with having enough skilled individuals to effectively operate it.
The biggest advantage for using the CyberForward application in combination with our CyberForward Talent Participants is that we believe we address this issue head on. CyberForward develops large numbers of suitably trained professionals that are specifically instructed in how to utilize this application, creating an overall solution at an effective price point.
How does the CyberForward application integrate into the program?
Whether measuring risk, or tracking improvement progress within an organization, the most expensive and difficult aspect is having enough skilled individuals to operate the tool, regardless of how good the tool is. Our CyberForward program looks to develop both the tool, and suitably trained resources to operate it in a systemic approach in the following ways:
- Within their third-party and policy analyst training development, CyberForward Talent Participants are instructed on how to use the application to perform third-party assessments as well as program measurements.
- We develop large groups of individuals at a time in the program, which enables the resource capability to perform a large amount of assessments at a single time.
- Our per-resource cost is manageable due to the price point of the CyberForward Talent Participants in the program.
What can the CyberForward application do?
The CyberForward application allows an organization to:
Establish a Dynamic Security Program Risk Score
- Establish a free program risk score that denotes the current state health of your cyber security program.
- Aligns your risk score to the specific demographics of your organization including where you do business, the industry you participate in, types of data you manage, and other organization specific factors.
- Considers the process health and security architecture within your security program as a component of the risk score.
Establish a Dynamic Progress Score
- Establishes a free progress risk score that measures how your organization improves over time.
- Delivers ongoing recommendations for improving your risk score over time and measures your effort at improvement with a progress score.
Measure and Manage Risk & Progress in Third Parties
- Manages the risk of your third parties and suppliers within an organization.
- Band all of your third parties by priority based on the level of access or the priority of data they manage on your organization’s behalf.
- Simple assessment workflow for measuring the security of third parties at your organization.
- Dynamically measure the rate of progress over time of how a third-party is improving.
Optimized to Work with CyberForward Talent Participant Development
- Within their third-party and policy analyst training development, CyberForward Talent Participants are instructed on how to use the application to perform third-party assessments as well as program measurements.
- Enables the resource capability to perform a large amount of assessments at a single time.
- Makes the resource cost manageable due to the price point of the CyberForward Talent Participants in the working phases of the program (4 and 5)
Integrate with Other GRC and Security Technologies within Your Program
- Integrate into existing technical risk measurement and GRC solutions within your environment.
Can I get a demo of the app?
A demo of the CyberForward application can be requested
What is the cost for using the application?
An organization can get a free risk or progress score here.
The cost of using the third-party risk management functionality, in either isolation or with use of CyberForward Talent Participants, can be learned here.
Can we Have CyberForward Talent Participants Use a Different GRC Solution than the CyberForward Application?
Absolutely, our third-party analysts in the program are trained on the fundamentals of performing common third-party analyst process steps and many have successfully worked on leading GRC solutions in the market.
Who can be a Community Partner in the program?
Non-profits, for-profits, veteran, cyber security, and leading educational organizations that can help identify, source and support Talent Participants in the CyberForward program.
What are great reasons for a Community Partner to participate?
Some great reasons to participate as a Community Partner include:
- Belief in the program and support of its principles.
- Creating a pathway for the clients you support.
- Gaining awareness towards your cause.
How do I learn more and sign up as a Community Partner in the program?
Make a request to learn more about becoming a Community Partner in the program here. During the orientation process you will be provided a detailed overview of all the expectations of a Community Partner in the program.
Can a for-profit organization operate as a Community Partner?
Yes, we do not discriminate as long as your organization can agree to the program principles and expectations of a Community Partner.
What types of Non-profits Participate?
Any type of non-profit that helps individuals that demonstrate aptitudes for success in the program are great Community Partners.
What does it cost us to send our clients to the program?
We do not charge non-profits to send their clients to the program. However, some do pay us, at their own discretion, because they have seen value in the program.
How many of our clients can we send to the program?
We try to accommodate as many individuals as possible, but we often fill program cycles on a first come, first served basis. As the program has begun to swell in popularity, we have at times sold out registrations of a program cycle. This is why we are trying to build our partner network so we can keep up with the growing need.
What are the requirements for our clients to participate?
At this time, they must have at least a High School GED and be 18 years of age or older. They must commit to show up to all of the classes in the early phases, and they must have the intention to want to eventually participate in the later phases of the program.
How does the non-profit support individuals throughout the program phases?
Often times, agencies are helping individuals with support for a certain type of roadblock. For example, addressing domestic violence, and housing or employment issues. Whatever support an agency is providing before the person participates in CyberForward, they should continue during the program in partnership with the CyberForward team.
Who can be a Mentor Partner in the program?
Professionals working in cyber security, or related industries, that are willing to volunteer aid in the development of others.
What are great reasons for a Mentor Partner to participate?
Some great reasons to participate as a Mentor Partner include:
- Belief in the objectives of the CyberForward program.
- Honing your own skills by teaching others.
- Helping us add more professionals to the cyber security industry.
- Having the time to commit as a mentor.
- Helping your community.
How do I learn more and sign up as a Mentor Partner in the program?
Make a request to learn more about becoming a Mentor Partner in the program here. During the orientation process you will be provided a detailed overview of the expectations of a Mentor Partner in the program.
What do Mentor Partners do in this program?
Throughout every phase of the CyberForward Program, Talent Participants are supported by Mentor Partners that help answer questions associated with cyber security, as well as share their experience in the cyber security discipline.
How much time will I have to dedicate?
Mentor Partners should generally allocate about 3-4 hours per week during Phase 2, with participation in later phases optional.
What skills do I need to be a Mentor Partner?
The best Mentor Partners have either worked in a cyber security program and understand how they work in the roles in which Talent Participants are developed, or have gone through this program as a Talent Participant, or both.
Do I need to take the class first before I can mentor?
It is recommended but not required.
If I have already gone through the program as a Talent Participant, can I help as a Mentor Partner?
1000% yes. One of the program principles is that we will teach a Talent Participant anything, but we then ask that you give back and teach others. The majority of class participants come back and serve as mentors, and it is a hallmark of the program.
Who can be an Engagement Partner in the program?
Cyber security consultancies, value-added resellers, cyber technology solution companies, or staffing providers that can refer Talent Participants to Hiring Partners for contracts or directly hire individuals at their own organizations.
What are great reasons for an Engagement Partner to participate?
Some great reasons to participate as an Engagement Partner include:
- Belief in the program and support of its principles.
- Creating a revenue opportunity for your organization.
- Enabling the opportunity to provide valuable staffing-based solutions for your customers.
- Building a pipeline of talent for your organization.
How do I learn more and sign up as an Engagement Partner in the program?
Make a request to learn more about becoming an Engagement Partner in the program here. During the orientation process you will be provided a detailed overview of all the expectations of an Engagement Partner in the program.
How do Engagement Partners participate in the CyberForward program?
Cyber security providers participate in the program by following these steps:
- Make a request to the CyberForward Team to participate here.
- Agree to the expectations of an Engagement Partner in the program
- Sign an authorized Engagement Partner and reseller agreement with CyberForward
How does the program work for Engagement Partners?
The CyberForward team manages Phases 1-3 of the program including the identification of talent, facilitation of the initial training class, and the intern phase of the program.
Participating Engagement Partners will also have the ability to serve as mentors during the training as a Mentor Partner at their discretion, as well as offer qualified Phase 4 candidates to their client base who may be interested in serving as a Hiring Partner for Talent Participant engagements. The MSA and contract for the Talent Participant will be managed by the Engagement Partner, in alignment with the partner and reseller agreements.
During the engagement, the CyberForward mentor and support team will still provide a support system in the same way they would if they were engaged directly with the CyberForward team. However, the entire relationship with the Hiring Partner will be managed by the Engagement Partner in alignment with the agreed-upon Engagement Partner expectations.
Can the Engagement Partner hire the Talent Participants directly and then then put them on projects?
Yes, once they have completed at least one project as a Phase 4 Talent Participant.
What is the Value for an Engagement Partner participating in this program?
Many organizations do not have enough suitably trained cyber security professionals to meet their cyber security needs. This program is a fast way to ready large groups of resources to meet this need in an innovative model. For an Engagement Partner it enables a way to meet this need in a service model that can generate revenue for your organization, while helping the communities we all live in.
Why is CISOSHARE looking to partner essentially with its competitors?
We learned that the need for individuals who want to get to a livable wage, and the organizations that need more of these individuals to help them with their security programs, is greater than CISOSHARE can handle alone. The addition of Engagement Partners in the network allows us a better way to scale for this need.
Who can be a Hiring Partner in the program?
Any organization that is either growing their internal security programs or cyber security service, and solutions providers that need more cyber security talent. These organizations participate by providing contract or full-time positions to Talent Participants in Phases 4 and 5 of the program.
What are great reasons for a Hiring Partner to participate?
Some great reasons to participate as a Hiring Partner include:
- Belief in the objectives of the CyberForward program.
- For organizations where cyber security is not your primary business, building a pipeline of talent for your security program. If you are a cyber security service or solution provider, create a pipeline of talent to serve the needs of your team.
- Acquiring additional suitably trained resources to aid in the success of your cyber security efforts.
- Rapidly scaling the resources on a security team due to growth or a specific need.
- Helping your community in balance with meeting program needs.
How do I learn more and sign up as a Hiring Partner in the program?
Make a request to learn more about becoming a Hiring Partner in the program here. During the orientation process you will be provided a detailed overview of all the expectations of a Hiring Partner in the program.
How does this work?
Below is the common workflow for a partner to sign-up.
Step 1: A Hiring Partner either inquires directly with the CyberForward Team or through an authorized Engagement Partner to set up a meeting, which will provide an overview of the program. You can request this meeting here.
Step 2: If the Hiring Partner has engaged directly to learn more about the CyberForward program, they will be assigned CISOSHARE as the Engagement Partner.
Step 3: If the Hiring Partner decides to move forward, they will need to sign an acknowledgement of expectations of a Hiring Partner, as well as establish a consulting relationship, and associated contracts with their Engagement Partner.
This will include the signature of the Hiring Partner Expectations Acknowledgement form, completion of a Master Services Agreement (MSA), and a Scope of Work (SOW) for the assignment of Phase 4 and/or Phase 5 Talent Participants as security or vulnerability analysts at the Hiring Partner.
Step 4: Once the SOW is signed, potential resources can be interviewed by the Hiring Partner. If selected by the Hiring Partner, they will be asked to pass a background and drug screening, and will become employees of the Engagement Partner.
If it is the first time a Talent Participant is performing a 3-month project as a Phase 4 Talent Participant, they will be assigned a Phase 4 rate. If they have already successfully completed a 3-month project they will be assigned a Phase 5 rate.
Step 5: Hiring Partners will then onboard the resources in partnership with the Engagement Partner, as well as the CyberForward team, and the resources will begin work in alignment with the scope of work.
Step 6: At the completion of the initial project (scope of work), the Talent Participants enter Phase 5 in the CyberForward Program if renewed by the Hiring Partner. The Hiring Partner can then either extend the contract again or they can hire the Talent Participants as internal employees in accordance with the program expectations.
Is this just a standard consulting engagement?
Yes and no. While the way in which a Hiring Partner engages CyberForward Talent Participants uses a fairly standard consulting engagement workflow, with work delivered as defined in the Scope of work, there are some very big differences that we think are hallmarks for the program’s success. They include:
- While these individuals should be expected to perform the tasks they are assigned, and will be trained accordingly, they will still be supported by all the program partners in the network.
- The Hiring Partner will need to play a role in supporting and mentoring these individuals while they are completing their scopes of work.
- The CyberForward team, Mentor Partners and Community Partners will also continue to provide mentorship and support while the Talent Participants perform their work.
- The rates for these resources are generally less than standard cyber security consulting rates but they should still be expected to deliver with quality what is defined in the scope of work.
- The Talent Participants can be assigned to more junior skill level assignments than is normally common in a consulting engagement. Over time, these assignments can increase in complexity as the Talent Participant completes program phases.
What kind of work do these resources do?
The types of work that Talent Participants perform is defined here (link to generally section where it defines this.)
What are the roles that we can hire for?
Talent Participants are developed as security or vulnerability analysts for types of work that is defined below...
Available to help in multiple areas of your security program.
Aids in documentation, development and execution of risk, policy, standard, or process-related tasks found in most common security program areas. Optimized for resource-intensive areas such as policy updates, performance of third-party risk activities, or overflow work from members of the existing internal team.
Ready to help your team identify and address vulnerabilities in your environment or take on other entry-level technical tasks.
These resources have been developing technical backgrounds and are optimized for entry-level technical research, or support-related tasks. Assignees are well suited for projects associated with vulnerability, DLP, or other technical tasks.
Are these contracts or do we hire the Talent Participants directly?
All Talent Participants engaged for the first time at a Hiring Partner will do so under a consulting contract. After a resource completes at least one 3-month project, they can be extended as contractors, or they can be hired as an internal employee of the Hiring Partner in accordance with program guidelines.
Do we need to give them benefits?
No, they are contractors under employment by their authorized Engagement Partner in the CyberForward program, so they do not need benefits.
Can we hire these Talent Participants?
After a Talent Participant completes at least one 3-month project, they can be hired as an internal employee of the Hiring Partner in accordance with program guidelines. There may be a small placement fee for hiring a CyberForward Talent Participant in this program which will be defined in the Master Service Agreement.
Are the Talent Participants technical?
Some of the Talent Participants are technical but should not be considered senior technical resources or security engineers. However, we have seen Talent Participants in the program who began as somewhat technical continue to develop into engineers of increasing skill, while participating in the later phases of the program.
Do you background screen and drug test these individuals before we would use them?
Yes, all Talent Participants undergo, and must pass, a full background screen and drug test before being able to perform any work at Hiring Partners in this program.
What are the rates for Talent Participants?
The hourly rate for Talent Participants is established and set based on their performance and the duration in which they have been working in the program. This pricing will be provided by making a request here.
How many is the optimal number for us to engage at a time?
We find that when possible, it is best if you can engage at least 3 at a time. The reason for this is that they develop together from the beginning of the program and form a bond, and this bond creates another support system that is valuable both for the Talent Participants, and the Hiring Partner.
Are they going to add value to us?
The feedback we get from our Hiring Partners is that they do need to invest time and internal resources to provide necessary support, teaching and direction to Talent Participants. However, they very much begin to contribute value that outweighs their cost and the support needed to get them going.
Do I need to engage these individuals only in full-time roles?
No, while you can give the Talent Participants 40 hours per week, we find that 20 hours per week often works best in the beginning for their first engagement. The reason for this is that many of the resources often have another job that they maintain until they can move to a full-time career in cyber security.
How does this help my organization help our community?
We believe that the best way to help individuals get back on their feet or help their families is to get them a livable wage job. That is what this program aims to do at its core.
Further, while not always the case, we try to align Talent Participants with organizations that operate in the community in which they live. This is the best way for an organization to give back directly to the community that they serve.
Do these individuals just intern or are they performing work in our security program?
Talent Participants are not interns. They must complete the Intern phase (Phase 3), before they can do projects at an organization in Phase 4 and Phase 5.
Do we need to have an internal Internship program in order to bring in these resources?
No, because the Talent Participants that will work for you are not interns, they are contractors. With that said, Hiring Partners are still expected to meet defined expectations for support of these Talent Participants so they can be successful in the program, and meet your requirements.
What is the best way to integrate these individuals once we onboard them?
We are developing training to help support our Hiring Partners. However, in the meantime it generally works best to assign a sponsor within your security team that can help with the integration of the Talent Participant into the various processes within your program. They can also serve as another mentor providing support to them
In addition, early in the engagement it is also really important to define the specifics of the processes of a job role, and its associated accountabilities and responsibilities.
What are the risks for participating in this program?
The primary risks are the same, if not slightly less due to the less expensive costs of the Talent Participants, that you would experience any time you sign a contracting engagement with a provider. This would include items such as an inability to perform the work as assigned, a larger impact on internal teams to support these resources than the value they create, etc.
How much time do our internal teams need to spend with Talent Participants?
We have seen the program work best when each resource is assigned an internal sponsor in the area that the Talent Participant is being assigned. This way, the sponsor can give the immediate support, mentoring, direction and feedback as they perform their job.
While in the beginning it can be expected that there will be more support than work performance as the Talent Participant acclimates, this shifts to more value than support quickly as the assignment progresses. If this does not happen, then most likely the Talent Participant is not a good fit for the assignment and can be re-assigned at the discretion of the organization.
What if it is not working out with a Talent Participant?
Sometimes, a Talent Participant does not work out for a myriad of reasons. When this occurs, they can be switched out for another Talent Participant with a short notice to the CyberForward team.
Can we choose who we get?
When requested, we allow Hiring Partners to interview and make requests for Talent Participants to fill their positions.
Why is this program timely during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Many of the Talent Participants in CyberForward are either unemployed or operate in the gig economy. This group of individuals are some of the most affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
At the same time, organizations have needed more cyber security resources for years, but the need has swelled even more as attacks have increased during this time of unrest. Learn more on this here.
Will CyberForward offer a Virtual Class during this Pandemic?
Yes, we have scheduled a virtual program cycle that will begin on May 8th. This cycle will be different in a couple ways:
- It is the first time we will be offering phases 1-3 of the program in a virtual format.
- We are increasing the number of individuals we want to develop at one time. If you are interested in taking the program – contact us!
- Because of the scale of the need during this pandemic, we are also trying to grow our partner network to meet this need. If you want to join our network as a Community, Mentor, Engagement or Hiring Partner, contact us!