Study release: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster

EDC study quantifies the impact of AI in region’s Cybersecurity cluster

Today, alongside Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) and Booz Allen Hamilton, EDC released the second study in a series on the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within San Diego County’s key economic clusters. “Securing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster” quantifies the economic impact of the region’s Cybersecurity cluster and explores the proliferation of AI and ML technologies being used to thwart cybercrimes, among other critical needs by the private-sector and government.

While the term “Cyber” has become household nomenclature only in the past decade or so, the industry dates back 50 years. As cyberattacks and ransomware threats on local mega-brands fill our headlines, and our digital and non-digital worlds further integrate, the importance of and need for Cybersecurity cannot be overstated.

Underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, the web-based study—cyber.sandiegoAI.org—includes a timeline on the history of Cybersecurity, a roster of recent Defense-Cyber contracts and subsequent job growth, details on the $3.5 billion economic impact of the Cyber cluster, and a set of recommendations for driving the use of AI and ML across the region.

“This series serves to spotlight the importance of AI-ML application within the region’s key industries—which contrary to popular belief—is helping drive productivity, job growth, innovation, and security here and around the globe. While there is work to be done in getting more San Diegans plugged into Cyber and related jobs, the industry has proven to be an engine of growth, even despite disruptions brought on by COVID-19,” said Nate Kelley, Senior Research Manager, San Diego Regional EDC.

Key findings

  • The region’s Cyber companies are significantly more engaged with AI and ML technologies than firms in other industries. Cyber firms are developing AI at a rate 2.5 to three times the regional average. Moreover, half of all Cyber companies implemented AI at least three years ago compared with 43 percent across all industries.
  • AI has generated unparalleled productivity gains. Productivity in the Cyber cluster has grown 7.5 percent since 2018, nearly triple the average for all San Diego industries, thanks to the development and adoption of AI.
  • AI is producing jobs, not eliminating them. Some 61 percent of Cyber businesses plan to hire workers—including AI specialists—in the next year. Moreover, AI has helped the industry to sidestep chronic labor shortages by automating tedious, repeatable tasks and allowing current workers to do more with their time.
  • Talent shortages abound. Despite industry employment growing by 7.4 percent since 2018, 80 to 90 percent of local Cyber companies cited difficulty sourcing qualified workers. The region’s colleges and universities are expanding their course offerings to bridge these gaps, but more must be done to better draw students to these programs.
  • Home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world, San Diego—and its Cyber firms—are positioned for growth. Nearly three in five local Cyber firms work directly or indirectly for the federal government, including the Department of Defense, and 32 percent focus exclusively on fulfilling federal contracts. Defense contracts are typically big, multiyear investments that provide stability to San Diego’s Cyber industry.

“It should come as no surprise that San Diego is at the heart of transforming the defense industrial base leveraging today’s latest technology, while working to mitigate the risks inherent to increased connectivity and data-centric decision making,” said Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton—underwriter of the EDC study series—and leader of the firm’s San Diego office, which employs over 1,200 professionals working on cybersecurity, analytics, engineering and IT modernization. “It’s clear that 5G, AI, ML, and cyber warfare will define our future battlefields, digital, and physical—and while we are encouraged by the report findings, we must all be ready to meet this new mission by fostering Cyber-ready tech talent, investing in up-skilling and reskilling programs, implementing rigorous cyber hygiene practices from the board level down, and coming together as a regional cluster to define how these new technologies will further—and safely—shape the San Diego region in the coming years.”

Cyber is an important and rapidly growing piece of the San Diego regional economy. Notably, every Cyber job generates another job in other industries in the region. The cluster accounts for 24,349 San Diego jobs across 874 firms, and has a total economic impact of $3.5 billion annually. This is about the equivalent of nine Super Bowls or 23 Comic-Cons.

“San Diego’s premier educational institutions, diverse industry base and robust federal assets seed not only the Cyber workforce but the innovation needed to protect our nation,” said Lisa Easterly, President & CEO, CCOE.

The study series is underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton and produced by San Diego Regional EDC. The report was unveiled at a virtual, community event (video recording below) sponsored by CCOE and Thermo Fisher Scientific, with representatives from Booz Allen Hamilton, ESET, Analytics Ventures, Cal State San Marcos, and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, among others.

Read the full study at cyber.sandiegoAI.org

 

Securing the Future AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster Event Recording.mp4 from San Diego Regional EDC on Vimeo.

Young Professional Spotlight: Alyssa Snow

Alyssa Snow, a CSU San Marcos and Link to San Diego alumna, is a cybersecurity professional currently working for Teradata. She has participated in two of EDC’s Advancing San Diego industry engagement events in 2021—most recently for a Women in STEM career panel. For Alyssa, participating in these events is meaningful because she remembers how it felt to sit on the opposite end of the room only a few years back, and finding her career path through EDC’s Link to San Diego event.

Read more about Alyssa’s experience below.

How did Link to San Diego launch your career?

In my third year of college at CSU San Marcos in 2018, I attended EDC’s “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” career panel and industry engagement event. This event propelled my career in cybersecurity. During the event, one panelist shared what it was like to work as a security engineer, which inspired me to learn more.

I approached the panelist, a representative from Teradata, and asked him how relevant specific projects of mine may be to practical security experience. After the event, I continued to keep in touch with the professional via LinkedIn and email. He sent me various links to resources that introduced security topics that I was interested in learning more about. Eventually, this individual introduced me to a few other employees from Teradata.

I will never forget this day. It meant so much to me that six security professionals took the time to have lunch with me a few weeks after the event and answer some questions regarding what it is like to work in the industry. By the end of the lunch, the Application Security team director asked me for my resume. He informed me that there were no internship opportunities for the security organization at that time, however, he would like to reach out if one were to become available.

Just a month after this lunch, a recruiter reached out to me and asked me if I would like to interview for an open internship position on that very team. I became one of the first-ever interns in the security organization at Teradata. I interned with the Application Security team for a year and a quarter, and was responsible for delivering automated solutions to scale product security across the organization. It was a remarkable experience that gave me direction in my career path.

Where are you now?

I now work at Teradata’s San Diego office as a full-time offensive security engineer. My team and I use adversary perspectives to help Teradata evaluate risks and identify process gaps to help improve the organization’s security posture. I love working in this industry because I am constantly facing new challenges that require creative solutions. I would not have had this experience if I had not attended “Link to San Diego: Cybersecurity” in 2018.


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Why Ireland is looking to San Diego for cybersecurity talent solutions

People sitting around a table in a board room

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the global cybersecurity workforce shortage is projected to reach 1.8 million unfilled positions by 2022. As a hub for cybersecurity companies and research, San Diego has been piloting programs to address talent shortages that are plaguing this ubiquitous industry.

San Diego’s collaborative efforts, combined with its unique concentration of academic, private sector, government, and non-profit industry, have attracted the attention of global technology markets.

In late February,  WTC San Diego – EDC’s international economic development arm –  and the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) hosted 15 delegates from Ireland-based government and academic intuitions. The delegation was touring San Diego to learn about the region’s cybersecurity industry and efforts to support its ongoing growth.

The global ‘cyber’ talent crisis

San Diego companies that attended the roundtable discussed technologies they were developing and strategies for addressing talent shortfalls.

San Diego’s cybersecurity industry, anchored by the presence of NAVWAR, has become a hub for cybersecurity companies. Based on research conducted by San Diego Regional EDC and the CCOE, San Diego’s cyber industry generated $2.2 billion in economic impact in 2018, with more than 8,450 employees working directly for cybersecurity firms.

San Diego companies in attendance also had a lot to learn. Following Brexit, Ireland is the only English speaking country left in the EU. The Ireland delegation used this point, among others, to make their case for why San Diego companies should consider expanding in Ireland.

Understanding WTC’s role

World Trade Center San Diego (WTC) works with partner organizations and global stakeholders to identify strategic global markets and help connect them to San Diego businesses and institutions to increase exports and drive foreign direct investment.

By facilitating strategic meetings, WTC seeks to help elevate San Diego’s profile with key global markets to increase opportunities for inward investment and support local companies as they evaluate expanding into global markets.

Are you interested in getting connected to high profile delegations? We’re here to help.

Get in touch

Related EDC articles and research:

Cybersecurity in the San Diego region

Summary

San Diego has emerged as a leader for the development of cybersecurity technology and the delivery of cyber-related services. The region’s healthy ecosystem, including its strong military presence, world-class academic institutions, incubators and strong partnerships between industry associations and governments, has positioned San Diego as a hub for cyber operations. Today, there are more than 150 firms in the San Diego region focused exclusively on cyber. With incidences of cyber attacks on the rise worldwide, the industry’s innovative companies are equipped to meet the global market’s increasing demands for new products and technologies. This study was produced in collaboration with the Cyber Center of Excellence.

Read the full report

EDC Study: Cybersecurity employment on the rise in San Diego

In a world where Internet-enabled devices have become embedded in everyday objects, the need for cybersecurity has never been more vital. San Diego’s roots in wireless technology, combined with its top tier engineering talent and military presence, make it a fertile ground for cybersecurity talent. And that’s exactly what EDC’s most recent economic impact study found.

cybersecurity economic impact numbers in SD

Commissioned by San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the region’s cyber economy, the study found that San Diego had more than 150 core cyber firms that employ 4,920 people in the region. The Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) provides an additional3,530 jobs to San Diego’s cybersecurity industry. In total, there are 8,450 direct jobs – up 11 percent from 2016 (faster than the regional employment growth of 3 percent).

“Too often San Diego worries about falling behind Silicon Valley or the East Coast, but this study conveys we have the talent and workforce to punch above our weight,” said Rear Admiral (Ret), Ken Slaght, CCOE chair and president of Cyber Center of Excellence. “San Diego’s premier educational institutions, existing industry base and robust federal assets, seed not only the cyber workforce but the innovation needed to protect our nation.”

The study was launched at Qualcomm on March 13, and featured a keynote from Dr. John Zangardi, CIO at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as an in-depth look at the interactive research tool, presented by EDC’s Research Director Kirby Brady.

View the interactive tool here.