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As Attacks Increase, U.s. Struggles to Recruit Computer Security Experts


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Cyberattacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication at a time when the U.S. government is struggling to address a shortage of proficient computer security experts. This shortage comes as the Pentagon is trying to staff a new Cyber Command that melds offensive and defensive computer security capabilities while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to expand its own cybersecurity force by as many as 1,000 people over the next three years. Realizing that meeting this goal will be difficult, DHS is focusing on training people already in the federal government in cybersecurity skills.

In November, the Government Accountability Office warned a Senate panel that the number of scans, probes, and attacks reported to the DHS's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team has increased by more than 300 percent. Mischel Kwon, former director of the readiness team, says that for years federal law forced most civilian agencies to spend their cyberfunds on security audits instead of on building a robust security program. Karen Evans, the Bush administration's information technology (IT) administrator, points out that most federal IT managers do not know what advanced skills are required to counter cyberattacks.

The National Science Foundation's Scholarship for Service program, which pays for up to two years of college in exchange for an equal number of years of federal employment, is a key element in the U.S. government's initiative to cultivate cybersecurity talent. However, the private sector often offers much higher salaries for cybersecurity personnel than the private sector.

From The Washington Post
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