With the CyberTitan Competition & Summit just around the corner this May 16-18, ICTC jumped on a video call with Field Effect, this year’s CyberTitan Competition host platform provider, scenario designers, and game-day facilitators.

Field Effect’s Noel Murphy, Director of Simulation Technologies, and Chris Nute, Global Sales Lead – Cyber Training and Simulation Technologies, generously shared their time with us, discussing Canada’s cybersecurity ecosystem, the biggest challenges facing the industry, Field Effect’s niche in this crowded market, and the evolution of the company’s involvement with CyberTitan.

Check out their insights below!

Who is Field Effect and what is the focus of your cybersecurity work?

Noel: Field Effect is a cybersecurity company with deep roots in the global intelligence community. We’ve been incorporated since 2016 and we currently have around 200 employees. Our headquarters are in Ottawa, Canada, and we have offices in London, England, as well as employees in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the world.

We focus on solving two problems that have plagued the cybersecurity industry for decades: complexity and inaccessibility. To solve these two issues, Field Effect created Covalence, which aims to help organizations of any size by distilling complex alerts and information overload into easily actionable tasks and actions.

We also have a military- and intelligence-grade cyber training and simulation platform called Cyber Range that gives dedicated cybersecurity staff the ability to practice with hands-on, real-world simulations, ensuring that they are prepared for the next incident their organization will face.

How does Field Effect fit into in the market?

Chris: It is a very, very crowded space. The information security market is a nearly $75 billion industry, with hundreds of players. It’s very siloed between a lot of network security companies, endpoint security companies, and lab security companies.

Covalence covers the entire threat surface. Some companies are paying four, five, six, or seven vendors to protect them, so we’re saying, “Why don’t you pay one vendor to make sure that you’re actually protected, because there are gaps between these siloed solutions, and those gaps are what bad actors use to get into the network to do bad things.”

On the cyber training and simulation side, we’re seeing a lot of demand. It’s a less crowded market, but there’s a massive cyber skills gap in the industry right now. Cyber Range provides a platform to help cyber practitioners at any level—beginner, intermediate, expert—get hands-on-keyboards time, prove what they’re learning through classes, and actually do what they should be able to do.

How would you characterize the pressing issues in cybersecurity today?

Noel: By far the biggest issue right now is the lack of skilled and trained professionals in the cybersecurity space. Globally, there is a massive, massive shortage of cyber skills, and Canada is no exception.

The other pressing issue is just how prevalent the “it won’t happen to me or my organization” mindset is. People think of cybersecurity as a Fortune 500, big company issue, or that it’s a military/nation-state activity. The truth is the news is full of companies of all sizes being hacked and exploited—and many of those go unreported.

So, when and how did you come to be involved in ICTC’s CyberTitan?

Noel: One of the ICTC Education Coordinators reached out to us about using our Cyber Range as a way to switch the CyberDays [one of ICTC’s flagship classroom workshops] to a browser-based activity, and the rest is history. Our platform allows you to push a button and go. That involvement then took a natural next step to CyberTitan and, this year, we are the host platform as well as the scenario designers and game-day facilitators.

Why is working with CyberTitan important to Field Effect?

Chris: It’s about students. We talk a lot about creating the next generation of cyber talent, the “cyber ninjas” and going to battle, so when we got the opportunity to train students who between 10 and 18, that was really exciting. I personally feel good about that.

Noel: Back to what I was saying about that skills gap, the only way Canada is going to close this gap is to generate interest in cybersecurity at a much younger age. Most people stumble into a cybersecurity job today. What we need is to get young people interested specifically in cybersecurity from an early age. That’s the only way we’re going to catch up, and the CyberTitan program can help spark that interest.

What is the biggest challenge you face in preparing for the delivery of the upcoming CyberTitan National Competition and Summit?

Noel: This is our first time in the role of competition designers. In the past, we’ve developed courses and content materials for cyber practitioners—people with a computer science degree—but this is our first exposure to developing something for high school kids. We have to get the balance right in assessing what they know and don’t know, making it hard enough but not too hard—all while keeping them interested.

Thanks for your time on this. Is there anything that you would like to add?

Chris: I hope that CyberTitan students continuing their journey in cyber education and, at the end of that journey, when some of these young folks graduate, consider Field Effect or some of our customers as a place to work.

Noel: I would echo that. I would love for somebody five years from now to come back and say, “Hey, I participated in CyberTitan, and I’d like to apply for a job with you.” It’d be incredible to see that come around full circle.

The other thing I would say is I would love for everyone who participates in CyberTitan to leave and say “That was super cool! That was exciting! Can’t wait for next year!”