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Obtaining Cyber Personnel Threatens Effective Defenses

Just as an earlier panelist at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., emphasized the importance of the human element in cyber intelligence, a subsequent panel sounded the alarm for acquiring and keeping cyber personnel. Obsolete hiring rules and competition from the private sector loom large as impediments to the government’s ability to hire and retain effective cyber intelligence personnel.

Competition from the private sector is quantifiable. Daniel Scott, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, pointed out that the government is offering less than half the annual salary than the private sector for skilled cyber graduates. These young people need to earn a lot of money in the first 10 years of their careers so they can pay off their college loans, he pointed out. And, the need for these people is immediate.

“We can spend millions and millions on scholarships, but we need to hire people today,” he stated.

Scott also called for comprehensive civil service reform. “It [civil service hiring] was written for the industrial age; it will not work for the skill set we will need in cybersecurity. We need more flexibility to bring people in and retain them,” he declared.