Cybersecurity has no doubt become a serious factor in the business world. This past year, many news stories served as warnings for companies to take cybersecurity earnestly and really consider their current state of digital security.
Tactics like email encryption and firewalls have become basic necessities for companies to defend themselves, and to even come close to attaining an effective force against hackers takes layers of cybersecurity instead of one or two tools. Companies have always known to look to third-party companies such as secure email providers, but even then, that security alone might not be enough.
Despite the need for cybersecurity, there is a lack of employees in the world of technology security. The United States government has been making moves to fix the workforce, but will it be enough to encourage citizens to join the fight against hackers?
The need for cybersecurity professionals
The Federal Information Security Modernization Act updated the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, which helped protect federal agencies against cyberattacks, according to FEDWeek. A few other bills, including the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act and the Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act, were passed in Congress in December. These bills all aim to help develop the cybersecurity workforce by either determining what positions are necessary within the government or what compensation is needed to increase the number of employees.
"Do we have enough [cybersecurity professionals]? Probably not today, based on what we've forecasted for the demand tomorrow," Air Force Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Michael Basla told FCW. "Do we have some sights in mind, some forecasts and people interested? Yes. We're now going through an exercise looking at a composition of the Air Force contribution to the U.S. Cyber Command requirements. It's a big job in front of us with a lot of attention on it right now."
The source reported that the U.S. Cyber Command is seeking 5,000 cybersecurity professionals and the federal government will need 10,000 in the near future. The bills that passed in Congress were mainly focused on finding talent for the Department of Homeland Security, which is looking for 600 cybersecurity employees.
Education in cybersecurity necessary for boosting number of employees
Hiring and training potential employees for cybersecurity is a complicated process. The FCW reported that the complications are derived from training shortfalls, vague requirements and battles between public and private sectors. In addition, programs that are made to develop these professionals are often too small and not comprehensive enough for the expectations most have from them.
"On the civilian side, you really have to have a program almost from the cradle to the grave," Gil Vega, former chief information security officer at the Energy Department, told FCW. "We need to be more formalized in how we recruit, train and develop. We haven't yet seen the answer to that problem. We face it at DOE, and my colleagues at other Cabinet level agencies are facing it as well."
The source recommended that programs that educate from the beginning of a person's life should be put in place - for example, classes that educate about cybersecurity and technology in elementary schools. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education has been working to develop students' knowledge in cybersecurity from kindergarten up to 12th grade. The training and education programs have degree opportunities, scholarships, internships and competitions to encourage young people into the field.
Despite the currently low interest in cybersecurity, it seems as though in the next few years, there will be a higher number of employees in the field. Education and assessments are being put into place to address the need for cybersecurity professionals, and this will surely help the technological advancements necessary to fight cyberattacks.