Department of Homeland Security Plans to Hire 1,000 Cyber-Security Experts to Protect U.S. Computer Networks

In October of 2009, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated, “Cyber-security is one of our most urgent priorities” when she announced that The Department of Homeland Security plans hire up to 1,000 cyber-security experts in the next three years to help protect U.S. computer networks.

Many IT security experts have expressed the United States is vulnerable to a massive cyber-attack due to our reliance and dependence on the Internet and industries such as healthcare, transportation, telecommunications, financial and energy to name a few are currently open targets.

In order to protect our nation’s computers with the best cyber defenders, these individuals must know how these systems work as well as how to break into them to better understand how to protect them and currently very few do.

While there are many training centers and organizations in the Washington DC Metro area aiding in training our cyber-warriors, many experts in the industry states the demand for qualified cyber-security specialists far exceeds the supply leaving the nation unprepared to defend itself against an online attack.

For those IT security professionals who are qualified, organizations are battling each other to obtain their services.  For example, companies such as L3-Communications, CACI and SAIC are trying to obtain the same talent, and it is no different with the government sector.

Carlos Johnson, Interim Director of Information Assurance at True Information Assurance, LLC based in the Washington DC Metro area has a more optimistic view on the matter by stating, “President Obama’s 2010 budget called for Protection against threats to the homeland by supporting the Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative.  His budget allocated $364 million to DHS to support the operations of the National Cyber Security Division, (which protects Federal systems as well as continuing efforts under the Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative) to protect our information networks from the threat of attacks or disruptions.”  Mr. Johnson further stated his organization True-IA is preparing to have the best cyber-warriors by having a competitive benefits package that include funds set aside for each employee to attend certification courses as well as conferences on topics relevant to IT/Cyber Security.

In a recent interview with NPR, Alan Paller stated, “Every military district of the Peoples’ Liberation Army (China) runs a competition every spring, and they search for kids who might have gotten caught hacking.” Paller further stated in his NPR interview, “One of the Chinese youths who won that competition had earlier been caught hacking into a Japanese computer only to be rewarded with extra training.  Later that year, we found him hacking into the Pentagon, so they find them, they train them, and they get them into operation very, very fast.”

Jim Gosler, a National Security Agency scientist, and the founding director of the CIA’s clandestine information technology office estimated that the United States only have about 1,000 qualified IT security experts and 10,000 to 30,000 are required to adequately protect the U.S.

Jay Bavisi, President at EC-Council stated “EC-Council is committed in ensuring that we help the nation develop some of the best cyber security brains to help combat unwarranted cyber attacks against our critical infrastructure.  In this process, last year, we succeeded in ensuring that the EC-Council curricula met all 6 of the CNSS standards set by the National Security Agency”.  Mr. Bavisi further states, “We worked hard to ensure that our programs meet high quality requirement to ensure we produce the best cyber warriors in the world.  Our certification was selected to be included in the DoD 8570 directive for the Department of Defense.”

Organizations such as Security University, EC-Council and SANS are amongst the training centers providing key cyber-security training in the Washington DC area.

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