This is another installment in SynED’s series to highlight cyber heroes who quietly go above and beyond in helping to secure our nation and communities. No matter how sophisticated technology becomes, solving problems related to cybersecurity will require a human innovation and connection. These themes run throughout Stan Stahl’s work in the public and private sectors and fuel his passion for cybersecurity education.
Stahl is the founder and president of SecureTheVillage, a non-profit that turns people and organizations into CyberGuardians having the knowledge, skills, and commitment needed to meet the ongoing challenges of cyber crime, cyber privacy and information security. He is also co-founder and president of Citadel Information Group, an information security management services firm recently acquired by Miller Kaplan, a Top-100 CPA firm.
Stahl began his career as a mathematics professor and eventually transitioned into information security when he was working for the U.S. government. When he met the Cyber-Guild team, he immediately saw parallels to the work that SecureTheVillage does to educate California’s residents about cybersecurity.
“Bill Gates had a goal of putting a computer on every desk in America; our goal is to put a CyberGuardian in every seat,” says Stahl.
Meeting that goal requires collaboration between industry, government and educational partners. Stahl saw those connections in action last year when he attended the California Mayors Cyber Cup, a California statewide cybersecurity competition organized by the Cyber-Guild to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity education in workforce development. Stahl also had the opportunity to visit the presentation of the Cyber Cup to the Los Angeles City Council.
“The energy that the students brought I found just phenomenal … I was blown away,” Stahl said. “These are the projects I want to continue and do more of through the CyberGuardian program at SecureTheVillage.”
Stahl sees cybersecurity as one of the greatest challenges of our time, a challenge that will be met when everyone is doing their part to protect their information and their computers. He talks about our need to mobilize CyberGuardians the way Winston Churchill mobilized the British people during the battle of Dunkirk in 1940.
Stahl draws inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s challenge of “doing hard things” to meet ambitious goals like putting a man on the moon.
He is also inspired by a sense of patriotism and pride in the U.S. that moves beyond the political tensions that prevent forward progress. He sees the potential to weave a new social fabric based on common interests like cybersecurity.
“Even as we have stumbled very far from our ideals, we do have our ideals and we drive them forward,” Stahl said. “For people who are really interested in cybersecurity, there is a community waiting to be built. Weaving that community together is what drives me.”