A newly-formed collaborative consisting of three locally-based organizations is relying on the Port to advance its big plans to grow San Antonio cybersecurity community.
San Antonio Multidiscipline Security Operations Center (SAMSOC), which works on independent projects and mutual workforce development efforts, is a nonprofit comprised of Red Cell, RedKnight and DC Industries.
Red Cell is a nonprofit organization focused on cybersecurity/IT training, workforce development and placement, and is leading the SAMSOC efforts. The organization places interns with various clients who require expertise in maintaining and safeguarding their networks and data. Many of those clients are also smaller nonprofits who maintain large amounts of sensitive data, such as medical records or financial information, and are therefore the potential targets of hacking or other cyber attacks.
Through Red Cell’s specialized training regimen, interns gain real world experience at detecting vulnerabilities, evaluating IT infrastructure and formulating action plans on behalf of those clients, many of whom might not be able to afford ongoing in-house cyber expertise.
"I developed Red Cell based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Information Assurance Specialist Apprenticeship Program,” says Rob Dodson, Red Cell Executive Director. “We provide interns with experience in performing assessments on the physical, administrative and logical sides of other San Antonio-based nonprofits.
SAMSOC founding partner RedKnight is a contractor that provides an array of security solutions to the Department of Defense. The organization offers IT systems and network engineering capabilities, as well as cybersecurity, product testing and mission operations experience. RedKnight provides training to Red Cell’s interns and prepares them for long-term careers by helping to permanently place them with both commercial and governmental organizations.
SAMSOC participants get real-world experience through internships with small area businesses.
“SAMSOC is creating a training center and an internship opportunity for locals who want to transition from other sectors into the IT/cybersecurity realm,” notes Red Thomas, RedKnight CEO. “One component of our center is a virtual lab. The interns will be able to monitor traffic in real-time in order to spot threats, but in a simulated environment that will cultivate their training and help grow their careers.”
DC Industries—SAMSOC’s other founder—is a mobile and global technology training company specializing in IT and cybersecurity certification and training. With a focus on both Department of Defense customers and Fortune 500 companies, the organization has the capabilities to deploy customized training anywhere in the world.
“You need to have a trained workforce and the support of the community,” says Cindy McClister, DC Industries CEO. “That is what we are doing here. We are three individual companies working together to help our cyber experts further grow the local landscape.”
“Technology is constantly changing, and that’s part of the excitement of cybersecurity,” adds McClister. “It is fluid and always moving, and it is critical for us to maintain and upgrade our training capabilities in order to ensure a foundational skillset for our workforce.”
“An inexperienced workforce is probably our Achilles heel in this business,” states Dodson. “There are many people who possess up-to-date training and certifications, but who lack experience. We have developed a way to provide them with that experience and help cultivate a successful ecosystem. As a result, cyber professionals will want to remain in San Antonio for the long-term.”