[ISN] Lack of cybersecurity specialists sparks concern

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 22:41:29 PDT

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    By Molly M. Peterson 
    National Journal's Technology Daily 
    September 4, 2002 
    The United States is facing an alarming shortage in skilled workers to
    protect the nation's critical infrastructures from cyberterrorism and
    other threats, several homeland security and high-tech experts said
    "There is going to be more demand ... for people with [information
    technology] skills," Harris Miller, president of the Information
    Technology Association of America, said during a cybersecurity
    conference in Washington sponsored by the MIS Training Institute. "It
    is a huge problem we have in this countryŚnot having enough people
    with adequate skills and training."
    Stressing the need to make information security second nature, Mark
    Holman, deputy assistant to the president for the White House Office
    of Homeland Security, said the president's forthcoming national
    strategy for cybersecurityŚdue to be released Sept. 18Świll address
    the need for skilled workers to help defend computer networks.
    Holman said the strategy aims to be a "living document" that will grow
    and change as the technology changes. The document will contain
    sections that address home users' security and network security
    issues, Holman said. It also will categorize critical infrastructure
    issues by industry, such as water filtration, electricity or
    Government and industry also must educate each other about
    infrastructure vulnerabilities and threats through information-sharing
    analysis centers (ISACs) and other partnerships, according to Ronald
    Dick, director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center.
    Dick noted that although about 90 percent of the nation's
    infrastructures are owned and operated by the private sector, "the
    scale at which the private sector looks at vulnerability assessments
    is very narrow from a national infrastructure-protection standpoint."
    Finding and retaining skilled workers to protect the military's
    critical infrastructures also must be a priority, according to
    Pennsylvania Republican Curt Weldon, who chairs the House Armed
    Services Procurement Subcommittee.
    Weldon said the military is facing a crucial shortage in information
    security specialists, in part because workers with those skills can
    earn more money in the private sector. "It's been a challenge to keep
    that level of competence in the military," Weldon said. "We're still
    on the cutting edge, but ... it's extremely difficult."
    Weldon said he plans to propose a new scholarship program in which the
    federal government would pay the undergraduate and graduate tuitions
    of students seeking careers in information security. Those students in
    turn would spend several years as "cyber warriors" in the military.
    Weldon said "information dominance" will be a military buzzword in the
    coming years because terrorist networks and enemy states that could
    never match U.S. strength on the battlefield are looking to cyber
    warfare as a central strategy.
    "All that smart technology that allows us to dominate any battlefield
    at any time is all computer-dependent," Weldon said. "We've never
    fought this kind of threat before."
    A failure to protect the nation's critical infrastructures could have
    disastrous consequences, both at home and on battlefields abroad,
    Weldon said. "We don't know when or where the next attack will occur,"  
    he said. "But I can tell you this: It will involve information
    Maureen Sirhal contributed to this report.
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