The annual CyberSmart Summit (May 29-30) brings together leaders from industry, academia, and government to advance national and international collaboration in cybersecurity skills and workforce development. This multi-day event, now in its third year, is designed to help identify the actions required to move towards overcoming the workforce challenges we face.

Dr. Mansur Hasib, Program Chair – Cybersecurity Technology with the Graduate School University of Maryland University College (UMUC), will be among this year’s featured speakers.

ONB spoke to Dr. Hasib ahead of the event.

ONB: How did you come to work in the cybersecurity sector?

Dr. Mansur Hasib - CyberSmart Summit 2019 Dr. Hasib: In the early ‘80s, I was in grad school and realized that everything was going to move from paper to digital. I knew this would change the world. I started learning and absorbing all I could about network engineering. Since there were no schools really teaching this stuff you had to build your own computers and labs at home. The University had donated equipment from IBM and Novell, so we started playing and building labs and small networks to teach students how to perform various automated functions. I was doing a doctoral in Political Science and figured we had enough political scientists. So, I went another way.

I began my first job in 1986 – transforming a medical school’s operations from paper and no computers to a new automated world of networks and computing. We were literally creating the cybersecurity field without knowing we were doing so. It was focused on what we call the “CIA Triad” or the three principles of cybersecurity: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It was exciting to be a part of and it has been my career ever since.

What can CyberSmart attendees expect from your speech, which will center around both cybersecurity and your healthcare experience?

The principles of cybersecurity are the same everywhere. I have seen a lot of companies make the mistake of going out and looking for healthcare professionals, then trying to make them cybersecurity professionals. That’s a tough challenge because the cybersecurity discipline is not easy to pick up in just a year or two.

It is much easier to transition a cybersecurity professional into becoming a healthcare cybersecurity professional. I say this from my own experience. Before I was a Chief Information Officer in the healthcare space, I really didn’t know much about the issues facing healthcare. Once I got into that world, however, I began learning a lot about what was important to that field, and then applied the principles I knew from cybersecurity. I was able to contribute so much to the healthcare field by bringing that prior knowledge and applying it to the healthcare space.

I want attendees to understand that before you do anything with regards to cybersecurity you need to figure out your mission, where are you headed and what are you going to do. That will dictate your digital strategy.

Whether you’re creating a cybersecurity workforce or even a digital health workforce, I think we need to teach people to think like business professionals first. Many people think that network security professionals are technology professionals — wrong. People that are simply technology professionals aren’t what I’m interested in working with. You must think like a business strategist.

Before you develop a solution for a company first understand the company, understand its people and their culture. Because the ultimate cybersecurity posture of any company depends on its people. Many companies will spend money on technology, but not nearly enough on good people. It’s not enough to throw money at the new shiny object, you need the right people and culture in place or your digital strategy is useless.

Cybersecurity is confused with simple protection. It’s much more than that, cybersecurity is a way to drive strategy. If you’re in healthcare, whatever you do with your data and information and cybersecurity strategy must be able to help you provide better actual healthcare outcomes.

Anything you’re personally looking forward to at the Summit?

Absolutely, I’m really hoping to learn more about CyberNB and the work your team is doing at ONB in both cybersecurity and digital health. As well, I’m looking forward to the networking aspect, whether it be with industry professionals, government or even the students. It’s a great venue for building connections.

Join us on May 29-30 in Fredericton for CyberSmart 2019. Registration is still open, with early bird pricing available until April 30.