Monday, December 28, 2009

Do you have the skills?

The feds are looking for people with the skills necessary to move the U.S. into the 21st century, cybersecurity wise. If you have the skills to help secure our networks and a security clearance, you can make some pretty good money, even if you don't have a ton of experience. You do have to have some, but the main point is that you have some experience and a security clearance. Cyber attacks have tripled recently, but cybersecurity talent with security clearance is so rare that government agencies and government contractors are fighting for the same people, and the government can't compete.

The governments inability to pay competitive salaries is hurting our ability to protect important data. The problem isn't being able to figure out how the bad guys might get at it, it's in figuring out how to close the holes we can find. And the ability to respond to a breach varies widely from department to department. The State Department has well equipped and trained staff who can respond quickly, determine the attack vector, and plug the hole, then analyze and determine was to prevent similar attacks in the future. The Commerce Department, which handles data every bit as sensitive as State, lacks similar equipment and training. Both suffered serious breaches. State was able to determine how it was done and prevent data theft. Commerce was never able to determine how the attack was pulled off, although they say no data was compromised. But they still replaced hundreds of workstations.

This is a serious problem. Organized crime and hostile governments (note: in this context, all other governments are hostile) are marshalling major resources at cracking the security in U.S. government and private corporate facilities. It is not the governments place to protect private companies (nor should it be), it is of paramount importance that government agencies are able to keep data safe from prying eyes. Their databases contain information that could do irreparable damage to our ability to compete in the marketplace. They contain data on research in all types of technology that we would not want falling into enemy, and maybe not even friendly, hands. If there is any one area we cannot afford for our government to skimp on, it is national security, and part of that is making sure that we have the best cybersecurity experts providing the best policies and procedures for preventing breaches, and when they do occur, detecting, plugging, and cleaning up after quickly and efficiently.