The nature of military permanent change of station assignments can create gaps in the U.S. Defense Department’s protected posture to cyber assets. The current approach allows valuable institutional knowledge literally to walk out the door, often being replaced with inadequately prepared personnel walking in. This practice runs contrary to the Pentagon’s stated strategic goals that aim at building and maintaining a skilled workforce rather than solely acquiring new tools.
The 35th annual AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific conference featured a panel with top female leaders addressing cybersecurity workforce issues. Having ever-present cybersecurity training, reaching a younger audience on their level and leveraging women who may be seeking a second career are all ways to close the cybersecurity workforce gaps, the leaders said.
For many in the U.S. intelligence community, choosing the profession was neither a career goal nor even a consideration until later in life. Few set out to join the agencies that comprise the community while in high school or college. This pattern—usually based on a knowledge gap—needs to change immediately to meet the United States’ national imperative for a talented and diverse workforce.
The call for diversity and equality that arose nationwide in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer has reached into the intelligence community, where many who have suffered from discrimination throughout their lives say much work remains to be done. The social needs of the country are mirrored in the community, which needs greater diversity to be able to serve national security needs in a time of dynamic change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled companies involved with intelligence systems and operations to rethink their work approaches to everything from hiring to clearances. Their need to continue to support the intelligence community has led them to new methods of operations that likely will remain in their portfolios long after the virus has passed into history.
The secure nature of providing foreign military intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense and the intelligence community requires careful stewardship of information and employees in an unclassified and classified environment. Once the COVID-10 pandemic hit, shuttering businesses and altering daily life, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, known as DIA, immediately had to examine and prioritize how to perform that work.
COVID-19 has done more than increase hand-washing and mask-wearing. It has meant an entirely new way of communicating and collaborating. Those on the front lines say some of these changes are here to stay and will last much longer than the pandemic simply because they are more efficient ways to do business.
By using multiple lines of effort, including college and university engagement, social media, virtual events, military outreach and partnerships, the Defense Information Systems Agency is taking a multidimensional approach to the development and growth of its cybersecurity workforce.
According to the (ISC)² 2019 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 145 percent to meet the demand for skilled cybersecurity talent. In the United States, it needs to grow by 62 percent. “It’s a big task,” the report said.
Certain baseline characteristics exist for successful teams, and the more an organization facilitates the development of such characteristics within their operations, the more effective the teams will be. Google’s Project Aristotle followed 180 teams for two years to identify these traits. A panel of Young AFCEANs discussed the results of this research from their own perspectives at WEST 2020, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI.
Failure in just one of a troika of military disciplines will doom the Navy in future combat operations, said a panel of experts. The Navy and the Marine Corps will need to tap their best potential expertise and resources to guarantee the success of manning, training and equipping the force.
A new federal cyber academy aims to help relieve the shortage in skilled cyber workers. The inaugural Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy graduating class demonstrates that individuals with high aptitude and motivation can be successful in technical training and can gain the skills needed to enter the national cybersecurity workforce.
In a first-of-its-kind move, new sustaining AFCEA corporate member Abacus Technology is offering its employees associate AFCEA memberships as an employee benefit. So far, the company has signed up 300 employees.
“I wish we had done it sooner because we really have gotten a lot of positive feedback,” says Alice Solomon, a vice president of Abacus. “When we were trying to come up with approaches for tightening up our community, it just seemed like a logical thing to do,” she adds.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is challenged with a significant personnel shortage, including information technology, spectrum and cybersecurity experts.
Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton, DISA director and commander of the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN), told the audience at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 conference in Baltimore that the agency is seeking to hire personnel in a number of areas.
The cybersecurity workforce gap is real, and it’s growing. Based on a state-by-state analysis on CompTIA’s cyberstates.org, there are currently 320,000 open cyber jobs in the United States. By 2022, the projected shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide will reach 1.8 million, according to the Center for Cyber Safety and Education.
Schooling at an early age, an appeal to patriotism and a government program that trades tuition support for public sector work may be necessary to produce the skilled cyber professionals so badly needed across the spectrum of technology jobs in the United States. While the current number of cyber workers is woefully insufficient, the demand increases. For government, the cyber threat escalates daily. For industry, cyber applications proliferate constantly.
The United States is falling short of badly needed cyber professionals in industry and the military, and the solution may require government incentives to rebuild this critical workforce. This effort must begin at the earliest levels of education and ramp up after secondary school, experts offer.
Advances in automated cyber weapons are fueling the fires of war in cyberspace and enabling criminals and malicious nation-states to launch devastating attacks against thinly stretched human defenses. Allied forces must collaborate and deploy best-of-breed evaluation, validation and remediation technologies just to remain even in an escalating cyber arms race.
Millennials might pose as grave a cybersecurity risk to enterprise networks as cyber criminals, according to one recent study. With more of them entering the federal workplace, they bring along technology preferences and bad behavior that threaten security of federal IT systems, according to cybersecurity developer Forcepoint.