NPR Report Warns of Cyberdefense Shortage

Friday, July 23, 2010

Global Knowledge

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One of my favorite radio stations, NPR, had a discussion this morning on a topic very near and dear to this blog. It centered on this country’s vulnerability to cyberattacks and lack of an adequate defense system.

Partially at blame is a shortage of computer security specialists and engineers who have the skills and knowledge needed to defend against “cyberwarriors.”

James Gosler, who worked at the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Energy Department, estimates that there are only 1,000 or so people in the United States who have the skills necessary to meet our computer security needs.

To put that number into perspective, Gosler estimates we need around 20,000-30,000 of these workers.

Quite a deficit, no?

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, there is a shortage of people who can “design secure systems, write safe computer code, and create the ever more sophisticated tools needed to prevent, detect, mitigate and reconstitute from damage due to system failures and malicious acts.”

A country that is not having this problem is China. In China, according to the NPR story, training computer experts is a national priority. In fact, at the most recent International Collegiate Programming Contest, 4 of the top 10 places were held by Chinese universities. American universities took none.

In response, a group of congress members is pushing a project to find up to 10,000 potential cyberdefense experts via a national talent search that starts at the high school level.

What do you think? Are we really leaving ourselves that vulnerable to attack? Could we ever have enough manpower to effectively defend ourselves from hackers and other cybercriminals?

Read the article here, or you can listen to the podcast.

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Lee Mangold If you do a job search across government and industry for open info security jobs, it's quite amazing how many there are. However, it's one thing to identify the need and quite another to act on the need. While these positions are "open" are organizations actually hiring? I'm not entirely convinced that they actually are...
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Anthony M. Freed Just cross reference with Washington Post's "Top Secret America" geomapping for security spending... :)
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Rob Lewis This is so laughable, it's sad. Sure, the answer is to keep piling on more layers of complexity-a sure answer to a broken security model, until we reach the point that everyone from the janitor and up will need a black belt in IT security.

More of the status quo will not work.
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Anthony M. Freed The government is too monolithic to respond to the dynamic nature of cyber threats, so they need the private sector to mitigate, as the free market provides for innovation.

The government should concentrate on reducing redundancy, wasteful spending and fraud when engaging the contracts.
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Ray Tan A country that is not having this problem is China. This very funny.Maybe they just need a assumed enemy in order to get the budget approved.They overestimated the ability of China on cyber war.
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