Add workforce woes to cybersecurity chief's agenda

Add workforce woes to cybersecurity chief's agenda
Add workforce woes to cybersecurity chief's agenda 

By Max Stier
Dec 24, 2009

President Obama has finally named the first-ever White House 
cybersecurity individual who now must focus government 
efforts to better protect vulnerable computer networks from attack by 
foreign nations, criminal intruders, hackers and terrorist 

The new cybersecurity coordinator, Howard A. Schmidt, promises to 
develop "a new cyber strategy that keeps America secure and prosperous". 
To accomplish this goal, Schmidt will have to use the clout of the White 
House to bring order to a governmentwide technology enterprise where no 
single individual or federal agency has had the authority to set a clear 
direction, settle turf battles or ensure accountability in an area that 
is critical to America's national and economic security.

As he embarks on this difficult path, Schmidt would be wise to promptly 
confront a crucial but often overlooked aspect of protecting the federal 
digital networks - the serious shortage of highly skilled cybersecurity 
professionals in government. Without building a sophisticated federal 
cybersecurity workforce, we will never adequately secure the 
government's computer networks and the military, intelligence and 
confidential data that they hold.

The need for such talent is increasing every day. The Government 
Accountability Office (GAO) reported in November that "pervasive and 
sustained cyberattacks continue to pose a potentially devastating threat 
to the systems and operations of the federal government". While security 
incidents grew by more than 200 percent from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal 
year 2008, the report concluded that the country is not optimally 
prepared to protect itself from such attacks.


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