U.S. needs to attract more Cybersecurity Ninjas

I’m not sure why I continue to keep a close eye on this administration and the Federal Government, but I guess someone needs to step up to do it. Hannity & Colmes, Limbaugh, and Jon Stewart might know the government but they sure don’t know security ;) I also think being so close proximity wise to the nation’s capital I’m constantly inundated with news clips, stories, and critiques that it’s hard not to form some opinion.

A report released by Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization devoted to building a better federal work force and Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm, finds the Federal Government is at risk of being unable to fight off attacks on the nation’s computer networks unless it strengthens its cyber-security work force. The report identified the four main challenges “as uncoordinated leadership of cybersecurity workers; a cumbersome hiring process that discourages people from seeking government jobs and fails to provide a career path for those who do; and hiring managers and human resource specialists who disagree on the quality of IT candidates.”

The report contained several recommendations for actions to help resolve some of the issues right now. One point that is strongly suggested is that agencies should put someone in charge of hiring cybersecurity talent now and not waiting for instruction from the White House’s new cybersecurity coordinator. The report also included a checklist for cybersecurity talent management agencies can use as a reference point.

I think its fair to say the public sector continues to lag behind in most things information security related. The lack of budget, resources, training and awareness is not too different than what we see in the private sector. However, the disparity in those areas especially with some of the “most critical” agencies can be disturbing. I hope President Obama and his cybersecurity appointed folks move fast to address the raised issues in this latest report. I totally agree each agency should move forward independently but at the same time coordinated strategic efforts and sensible guidelines/frameworks are going to be critical across our government. I hate to admit it, but I do think a major roadblock is going to be the pay scale for government positions. Security folks are at the top of the IT pay scales and right now don’t translate well on the government’s GS scale. A bit cliché but money talks.

Please President Obama, please get your cybersecurity A-team put together quickly, get advice with cybersecurity thought leaders and representatives in the private sector, and give the agencies serious security budgets to get things accomplished. We need more ninjas on our side, protecting our “cyber-borders”.

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