Mark Weatherford, CISM, CISSP
Recent media attention on malware attacks (Flame, Mahdi, Gauss and the like) highlights the ever-changing nature of today’s threat landscape. We in the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are responsible for securing US government networks (dot gov), our nation’s critical cyberinfrastructure and responding to cyber responsibilities. Executing this role requires the DHS and its partners to be adaptable.
Our cyberenemies are flexible, resilient and innovative. We must continue developing a mentally agile, expert workforce capable of meeting their challenge. A technically skilled, cybersavvy workforce with a pipeline of future talent is essential. With this in mind, we are establishing the means to identify talent, shepherd them through education and empower them to forge a path in the career world.
We’d like to give you a broad-stroke picture of some of DHS’ initiatives where we are taking action toward these measures. We are a strategic partner with other agencies and the private sector under the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a national effort to “professionalize” cybersecurity as a career.
To deepen and broaden the future talent pool, DHS cosponsors the National Centers for Academic Excellence (CAE) programs with the US National Security Agency (NSA). As of May 2012, there are more than145 institutions with CAE designations. Underscoring this issue’s importance, Secretary Janet Napolitano recently announced the establishment of a task force on the cyberworkforce to examine creative strategies for enhancing the talent pool, cybersecurity credentials, and career paths within DHS.
This professionalization is the easy part. The hard part will be transforming public perception of cybersecurity from “geek” to “cool.” DHS and industry should work in tandem to make cybersecurity a profession that the youth want to join.
I look forward to reading your blog comments for ideas and suggestions as we continue to build a world-class cyberworkforce.
Learn more on the NICE
initiative and on the CAE