Hacker scarcity leaves US ill-prepared to combat security threat


by Byomakesh Biswal| 18 June 2014

Cyber security skill shortage leaves country ill-prepared to combat cyber war.

A study by nonprofit research organisation, RAND Corporation has found that there is a nationwide shortage of skilled cyber-security professionals to protect organisations from cyber crime, posing risk to US national and homeland security.

The report claims that the shortage of skilled cyber security professionals could leave cyber networks vulnerable and country ill-prepared to combat cyber crimes.

The report claims that the shortage of trained professionals is high across the country and it quite acute in the Federal Government as it fails to match the salaries of offered by private companies.

Senior management scientist at RAND and lead author of the study Martin Libicki said it's largely a supply-and-demand problem.

"As cyber attacks have increased and there is increased awareness of vulnerabilities, there is more demand for the professionals who can stop such attacks," Libicki said. "But educating, recruiting, training and hiring these cybersecurity professionals takes time,"

The study claimed that the demand of trained professionals started outstripping supply from 2007 with the reports of large-scale hacking, including the leakage of credit card data, attacks on Internet connectivity.

With growing demand, the high end trained professionals started commanding salaries of more than $200,000 to $250,000.

Large organisations however managed to find ways to address the shortage by giving internal promotion and training.

RAND study recommends that federal agencies should relax civil service rules that prevent hiring skilled sybersecurity professionals, maintaining government hiring of these professionals through sequestrations.

It also suggests funding software licenses and related equipment for educational programs, refining tests to identify candidates likely to succeed in these careers, and developing methods to attract women into the field.

In longer term, the study recommends limiting the use of problematic computer applications or encouraging the development of harder-to-hack operating systems.

The study was funded a grant from a private foundation and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

For the study, the researchers reviewed previous studies on the topic, examined the economics of particular kinds of skilled labour shortages, conducted interviews with managers and educators of cybersecurity professionals, and examined the kinds of skill sets required for these jobs.

Grappling with talent shortage, last month FBI said it could relax its hiring policy of no-tolerance towards marijuana smoking to recruit a strong workforce of hackers to combat cyber crime.

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