Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Pentagon efforts to strengthen its U.S. Cyber Command in coming years. By 2016, the Fort Meade, Md.-based military command expects to triple its security staff to 6,000 people, he said.
Hagel revealed the recruitment efforts late last month during a speech at the National Security Agency's (NSA) headquarters, according to a March PBS report. In the speech, Hagel also shared that the Pentagon's hiring plans included military and civilian candidates.
By this year's end, Hagel expects the Pentagon's cyber security workforce to stand at 1,800 individuals.
The move comes as the government attempts to thwart cyber espionage threats from China and elsewhere, as well as other cyber attacks that threaten national security or economic competitiveness.
In one measure to specifically stave off critical infrastructure attacks, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a cyber security framework to help aid organizations and operators. NIST unveiled the voluntary framework in February, which was designed to complement organizations' existing security management programs. The framework was intended to serve as a guidepost for a range of industries managing integral processes for the nation, from water treatment facilities and energy companies to the finance and healthcare sectors.
On Tuesday, Michael Daly, the CTO for Raytheon's cyber business, told SCMagazine.com that the government would likely have to do a lot of training, while partnering with private companies and educational institutions, to fill the demand for such jobs.
“It has to do with having the skills,” Daly said. “I think that when the jobs are there, the people with the skills are seeking them out and going after them. What we are seeing is a huge backlog as far as being able to hire people into these jobs. The number of security jobs have grown, but these jobs are taking a lot longer to fill.”
Last year, “The 2013 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study," found that, among 12,000 information security professionals polled, 56 percent said that their organization was in need of more security workers.
In a Tuesday interview, W. Hord Tipton, executive director of training and certifying body (ISC)2, said that the government sometimes pays as high as 25 percent over the standard government salary for classified security jobs – but often the best candidates are lost by the lure of even higher-paying positions in the private sector.
“You lose your best talent to companies that are willing to pay more,” Tipton said.