Expert Spotlight: Rob Arnold
Some businesses perceive cybersecurity as a one-person IT department concern, but Threat Sketch Founder and CEO Rob Arnold is trying to change that. He encourages organizations, especially smaller businesses, to pay more attention to the software that could help or threaten these companies. There are several types of cybersecurity, and businesses face unique challenges.
From his preteen years, Arnold taught himself to write code for video games and other software using only the manual for his 8-bit microcomputer (Commodore VIC-20), and this hobby turned into a lifelong passion. We got the chance to ask about the skills and hard work that have gone into building this dynamic career.
Pursuing a Career in Cyber Risk Management
ed2go: How would you describe your specific area of expertise in cybersecurity?
My expertise is cyber risk management, which solves the problem of connecting the high-level mission and strategy of an organization to cybersecurity. My company, Threat Sketch, specializes in strategic cyber risk assessments. These are different from the run-of-the-mill vulnerability scans that many people think of when they think about "risk assessments." Our risk assessments are strategic in nature and help executives and board members manage cyber risk at a business level. When executives understand the larger risk landscape in which their organization operates, they can make better decisions about cybersecurity investments.
In addition to being an entrepreneur and cyber risk assessment expert, Arnold earned a Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) credential and is the author of "Cybersecurity: A Business Solution," which he considers a true bucket list accomplishment. And if publishing a book isn't cool enough, Arnold testified in front of the House of Congress Small Business Committee at a hearing called, "Federal Government and Small Businesses: Promoting Greater Information Sharing for Stronger Cybersecurity" in November 2017. He was one of four industry experts to present to the committee due to his expertise and experience in the cybersecurity industry.
Building a Successful Cybersecurity Career
ed2go: What special skills does someone need to thrive in a career in risk management cybersecurity? What sets this career path apart from other directions people might take in the field?
It depends on the segment. For what we do, a deep understanding of statistics and financial modeling is important. It is also important to understand how to map various business objectives to specific operations, data, and communication channels. Beyond that, a very broad understanding of how IT systems interoperate and where they are fragile is very beneficial.
While working in a master's program in computer and information systems security/information assurance at East Carolina University, Arnold came up with the premise for Threat Sketch and obtained his CRISC certification around the same time. This certification gives IT professionals suitable preparation for complex challenges in their field, including enterprise risk management. This certification also helps IT specialists become strategic partners in the industry of cybersecurity. Arnold believes that both this education and certification have been among the most practical investments in his career.
In addition to strong professional training, Arnold's career path wouldn't be the same without mentors and networking. He notes, "Perhaps one of the most important roles my mentors have played is helping me cope with mistakes. I tend to be very hard on myself when I fail. The best mentors are those that pick you up, dust you off, and encourage you to try again." As for networking, Arnold is a member of The Society of Information Risk Analysts (SIRA), IT Sector Coordinating Council (IT SCC), IT Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IT-ISAC), Business Executives for National Security (BENS), The Society of the Cincinnati, Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and he's an iTEC Cybersecurity Advisor at Forsyth Technical Community College.
Looking Toward the Future with Curiosity
ed2go: Where do you see cybersecurity headed in the future?
Ron Arnold: We have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Given that cybersecurity is essentially the dark side of the technology wave that's been growing ever larger since the 2000s, we can safely assume that cybersecurity will grow larger right behind it. Like a shadow of a mountain that just keeps getting bigger.
As software and hardware rapidly changes, Arnold knows that cybersecurity job opportunities will evolve with surprising disciplines, and such industries will create jobs to become hybrid positions, just like how user-interface and usability evolved to marry functional graphic design with software development. Arnold reminds aspiring cybersecurity experts, "The best way to stay abreast is to be forever curious." We couldn't agree more!