From Homework to Hacking: Recruiting Young Cyber Experts
In an increasingly cyber world, what is the greatest long-term challenge? A threat to our Government in cybersecurity is not having enough qualified personnel to defend our nation’s critical infrastructure, databases, and computers systems. How can we strengthen our nation's long term security in the present? The answer can be found in an unlikely place…a high school classroom.
DHS has begun to target young adults to find the estimated 600 cybersecurity experts and 'defensive hackers' it needs to play defense against a growing aggressive hacking 'offense.' Department of Homeland Secuirty (DHS) Secretary Napolitano convened the Homeland Security Advisory Council's Task Force on CyberSkills to study how to best engage students. Here are some programs DHS is using to target students:
- Secretary’s Honors Program (SHP) Cyber Student Initiative – community college students and student veterans develop their computer forensics skills by working at ICE's Homeland Security Investigations lab
- National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education – a DHS and National Security Agency (NDA) program partnering with universities to educate students with real world cyber skills
- Scholarship for Service Program (SFS) – grants students scholarships to study information assurance at universities and colleges partnering with DHS and commit to government service
- US Cyber Challenge (USCC) – a DHS-sponsored program designed to give students access to exciting cybersecurity training; aims to bring 10,000 qualified personnel to the cyber workforce
- Cyber Cup Challenge/Net Wars – examples of state led cyber competitions designed to make cybersecurity training feel like a video game and engage high school students
Programs like these should be a priority to plan for a secure future. The U.S. needs to catch up to countries like China that are teaching cyber skills in schools, or we will be left defenseless against future hackers. DHS faces competition for qualified students from tech start-up companies offering more money and benefits and competition from other government agencies with a history of recruiting emerging cyber talent.
Creating enthusiasm around cybersecurity and increasing the incentives to serve our government will strengthen our nation's resiliency.