The Department of Homeland Security is having a difficult time recruiting cybersecurity experts, according to a New York Times article published Thursday.
Though DHS has authority to hire up to 1,000 cybersecurity workers by June 30, the department is struggling to attract qualified workers because it can’t pay as much as the private sector and it is not as appealing as working for intelligence agencies.
DHS currently employs 691 people in its cybersecurity division, but it needs many more to match growing infrastructure threats.
“We are competing in a tough marketplace against a private sector that is in a position to offer a lot more money,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told senators at a hearing last month. “We need more cybertalent without a doubt in DHS, in the federal government, and we are not where we should be right now.”
Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure appear to be on the rise, and are a growing concern for organizations and governments across the globe, which is part of the reason DHS is in such a hurry to hire additional people. According to an October 2015 report in CyberWarNews, “every bit of U.S. infrastructure – from power grids to dams to air and ground traffic control to water treatment plants and our financial institutions – are all accessible online. And while these systems are defended, some are still more vulnerable than others.”
In February, the Obama administration released its 2017 budget, calling for $19 billion to support a "broad-based cybersecurity strategy" to help secure the government, critical infrastructure and "important technologies.”
Cybersecurity experts are in short supply in the private sector, too. According to Bob Melk, president of Dice, “It’s more and more difficult for CIOs to find talent with skills in key areas such as cloud development, data science (and) security.”