Cybersecurity didn't exist 20 years ago but now, it's influential enough that the U.S. Justice Department has created a cybersecurity unit in its criminal division. Due to the rise in cybercriminals and threats against sensitive information in the government as well as multiple attacks on private enterprises - such as the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment breach - the U.S. government has been focusing more on cybersecurity and what it means for American people and businesses.
Mistrust in American cybersecurity
In 2013, there were two cyberattacks that targeted the global banking system. NewsFactor reported that the 13 hackers involved in the crime cost the banking system $45 million.
"Let me emphasize, that figure is not a speculative estimate or a projection," U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in reference to the cost, as quoted by NewsFactor. "That is the sum total of money that the perpetrators withdrew from banks around the world by breaking into bank computers and removing limits on the amount of money they could withdraw from ATM machines."
Cybersecurity has become necessary because of attacks like this. The breaches cost serious money and can compromise important information. Although cybersecurity is now a necessity, it has not become the influential force it needs to be in the professional world. According to Information Security, the Department of Homeland Security showed 22 percent of jobs in cybersecurity were unfilled last year.
The reaction to this situation was swift, as a second article in Information Security reported the U.S. senate unanimously passed a bill dubbed the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013, which would strengthen the number of cybersecurity personnel working in the DHS. Additionally, the bill required the DHS to report annual progress on cybersecurity and further identify cybersecurity needs. Transparency and oversight in the recruitment program will also be emphasized in the bill.
The effort to find people interested in cybersecurity has been difficult, mostly because of the low pay within the sector and the clearance potentials workers would have to be given, Information Security reported in the latter article. Until the Justice Department created the cybersecurity unit, there was no sector in the government that housed cybersecurity professionals.
Moving forward with solutions
Despite the step forward in cybersecurity with the creation of the unit, it seems far from perfect for drawing professionals to the field. Information Security noted that pay might not be high enough for those in cybersecurity and that the government will have to find innovative ways to attract people to the field.
"It's always going to be difficult for the government to be competitive purely on the basis on pay," Franklin Reeder, co-founder and board member of the Center for Internet Security, told Information Security. "It may make a little bit of difference at the margin but, ultimately, folks of quality are drawn in for reasons other than pay. They can make a lot more money in the private sector, and they always will be able to. So, I'm a little bit skeptical of the claims that pay authority in and of itself will make a difference."
In addition, the creation of the cybersecurity unit is because of the public distrust of the government with regard to the handling of personal information. Recent security breaches at stores like Target and Home Depot have made the public wary. Caldwell told NewsFactor that it could be difficult for the government to develop cybersecurity because of the public's distrust. The public mistrust of the government is related to the idea of the feds monitoring phone calls and Internet communication, according to the same source. It has been difficult to get Congress on board with a united solution for cybersecurity, and a recent cybersecurity bill stalled, USA Today reported. The bill is expected to be resolved next year in the Republican-majority Congress.
According to the news report, the bill will greatly improve cybersecurity for Americans. Without it, Americans are at risk for cybersecurity attacks. Congress reportedly cannot come up with a compromise for a bill, which means that citizens' electronic information will continue to be at risk until a solution is reached. Private companies are known to resist sharing information about cyberattacks with the DHS due to liability issues, which this bill is attempting to prevent.
Matt Eggers, who controls cybersecurity issues at the U.S Chamber of Commerce, told USA Today that sharing information among the government and businesses increases security in citizens' private data. The cybersecurity bill stalled in Congress would provide Americans with more security and privacy - that is, if it's ever approved.
With cybersecurity becoming such a huge issue among the government, it's important for businesses to consider their future in regard to Internet security and within their networks. Hiring a third party that knows how to put cybersecurity in place and establish secure email service can be a first step toward making a company safe in a world where cybersecurity has become crucial.