By Ellen Nakashima and Brian Krebs
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 23, 2009
The federal government is struggling to fill a growing demand for
skilled computer-security workers, from technicians to policymakers, at
a time when network attacks are rising in frequency and sophistication.
Demand is so intense that it has sparked a bidding war among agencies
and contractors for a small pool of special talent: skilled technicians
with security clearances. Their scarcity is driving up salaries,
depriving agencies of skills, and in some cases affecting project
quality, industry officials said.
The crunch hits as the Pentagon is attempting to staff a new Cyber
Command to fuse offensive and defensive computer-security missions and
the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand its own "cyber"
force by up to 1,000 people in the next three years. Even President
Obama struggled to fill one critical position: Seven months after Obama
pledged to name a national cyber-adviser, the White House announced
Tuesday that Howard Schmidt, a former Bush administration official and
Microsoft chief security officer, will lead the nation's efforts to
better protect its critical computer networks.
The lack of trained defenders for these networks is leading to serious
gaps in protection and significant losses of intelligence, national
security experts said. The Government Accountability Office told a
Senate panel in November that the number of scans, probes and attacks
reported to the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer
Emergency Readiness Team has more than tripled, from 5,500 in 2006 to
16,840 in 2008.
"We know how we can be penetrated," said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin
(D-Md.), chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on terrorism and
homeland security. "We don't know how to prevent it effectively."
Indeed, the protection of critical computer systems and sensitive data,
said former National Security Agency director William Studeman, may be
the "biggest single problem" facing the national security establishment.
Did a friend send you this? From now on, be the
first to find out! Subscribe to InfoSec News