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August 13, 2010

But do you really want that cybersecurity job?

subelsky.jpgBaltimore hacker, occasional contributor to BaltTech, and all-around smart/good guy Mike Subelsky (left) penned a thoughtful essay on why Maryland tech geeks should think carefully about diving into the cybersecurity field. Sure, it's a hot area -- I recently wrote about how basically the big wheels of government and Corporate Maryland are turning hard in that direction.

But Subelsky, a former government IT guy himself, cautions that people who aren't in the field should be prepared not just for the potential rewards (nice paycheck, work on important national security projects), but downsides, too (limited creativity and flexibility/freedom within your work role.)

From Subelsky's blog post:

Maryland's business press, government officials, and various tech organizations have lately been enthusiastically banging the gong for cybersecurity. I can appreciate why - there's a lot of money at stake, and a lot of it comes from Maryland's foremost benefactor, the federal government. This is a recession-proof, guaranteed-to-grow industry, and Maryland is already home to many successful cybersecurity companies like Sourcefire. The government and private companies employ many thousands of people and contribute many millions of dollars to our tax base.

So it makes sense for our government to be pursuing these opportunities, but does it make sense for you, Maryland hacker?

Subelsky makes some good points. In a recent interview with a CEO working in the mobile space, this CEO told me that there is plenty of technical talent available in this area. But what's lacking in the pool of workers in the Baltimore/Washington area are people with bona fide experience in product development, in the enterprise and consumer space.

Satisfying a government customer is very different than satisfying a couple hundred big and different companies who are clients of your enterprise software.

To Mike's points, the only thing I would add, as a side note, is that if there's a silver lining, it is that Mike himself is an example of how federal government work can eventually "spin off" motivated creatives to do their own thing, with a ton of experience under their belts.

It isn't just about Maryland making it easier for residents to get jobs in cybersecurity, but also helping entrepreneurs build their own companies in the private sector, too.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Government Tech


I worked in Top Secret/SCI environment for years and ended up quitting because of the constant SNAFU environment... All agencies are, in effect, fighting for the same pile of money so they are constantly reinventing the wheel and working AGAINST one another rather than sharing and cooperating with one another. And, if you think corporate CIO egos are bad, what until you run into a guvvie who is near retirement ... they can do no wrong and are absolutely bullet proof. (much banging of head against walls ensues). I spent more time trying to coordinate disparate efforts and educating know-it-alls on the danger of "grabbing code off the Internet" (truly!!!) than doing anything that mattered. If foreign governments aren't already in our government "security" systems, I'll eat my hat.
Sign me - Disillusioned

Hi Gus, thanks for posting this! I should have thought of that point you brought up about attracting tech talent to the area -- though I have been playing catchup ever since on learning product skills!

I'm a a 31-year-old college dropout who already works for a large, soulless corporate entity that locks everything down, doesn't use the latest anything software-wise, and gets so tied up in procedure that it impedes anyone's ability to get actual work done - aka a very, very large bank/financial services company. So for me, despite all of this, cybersecurity is looking pretty good. I mean, I can finish my degree, there's a chance the government will pay for two years of it, and they'll pay me more? And maybe even give me a regular raise/bonus (something banks stopped doing long before the financial crisis hit)? Sounds like a plan to me.

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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