Frequently Asked Questions

What is CyberForward Academy?

CyberForward Academy 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 Academy?

CyberForward Academy 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 Academy'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 a 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 Academy 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 with 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.
  • Talent Participants who complete the foundations class and work experience are aptly suited for junior-level analyst or engineer tasks and responsibilities while those who complete the Next level classes 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 online format due to the current 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 online version of this program?

An online version of the program will be offered in order to support the development of professionals during the COVID-19 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 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 Academy?

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 CyberForward Academy?

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.

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