AT&T helps train veterans to fight cyber crime

Here’s one side effect of the coronavirus crisis: Keyboard warriors are in demand. Because record numbers of people are working from home these days, there’s a huge need for cyber security pros to protect our sprawling online infrastructure.

With that in mind, AT&T is teaming up with a nonprofit group to train Texas military veterans for new careers fighting cybercrime. The national nonprofit, called NPower, specializes in bringing cutting-edge IT training to veterans and their families.

The project will be located in Dallas, one of the fastest-growing digital hubs in the US. Veterans there will learn how to manage operating systems, diagnose networks and use security tools to deal with digital vulnerabilities and threats.

“As more people use digital communications to stay connected during the COVID-19 crisis, our country needs more cybersecurity professionals who are ready to help lead the fight against cybercrime,” said Roger Thornton, AT&T Cybersecurity’s VP of Products and Technology.

“Military veterans are perfect candidates for these positions because they already have many of the technical skills required for a career in information technology.”

It’s no secret that malicious cyber attacks are on the rise. In fact, major tech groups are appealing to Congress to include cybersecurity funding for state and local governments in the next coronavirus stimulus bill. The group cited an increase in ransomware attacks over the past year, as hackers locked up systems and demanded ransoms in various cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore and New Orleans.

As for AT&T, it continues to maintain a focus on veterans. It recently announced it’s reached its goal of hiring 20,000 veterans by 2020. Now it’s contributing $200,000 to NPower in an effort to train 25 veterans and military spouses in state-of-the-art cyber security skills.

Such skills are much needed and highly marketable. According to the US Department of Labor, job opportunities for information security analysts are expected to grow by a whopping 32% over a decade — much, much faster than the average.

Aside from IT training, the nonprofit NPower also helps veterans with job placement, mentoring, networking, social services and transit assistance. But technical training of the kind that AT&T is funding is much needed, said Russ Medina, executive director of NPower Texas.

“We believe that this effort will eventually provide an important pipeline of dedicated cybersecurity professionals to help protect American consumers and businesses from these growing threats,” he said.