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FCW : January and February 2017
20 January/February 2017 FCW.COM BY KAREN EPPER HOFFMAN Although the demand for information security professionals continues to grow across all sectors, there is added pressure to make sure government specialists have topnotch skills and experience because of the nature of the threats against the public sector. “It makes sense that organizations would want the most experienced person for the job, and as they sort through hundreds of résumés, they need ways to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff,” said Casey Ellis, CEO and founder of Bugcrowd, a crowdsourced testing platform for enterprise security. However, she added that with an estimated 1 million unfilled information security positions, “this is a very limiting approach, not only to finding talent in the short term but for the future labor pool.” And information security is only getting more complex. “Cybersecurity is a burgeoning field with a need for specialists in numerous areas,” said Richard Spires, CEO of Learning Tree International and a former CIO at the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS. He pointed out that the National Institute for Cybersecurity Education’s Cybersecurity Workforce Framework divides the work into seven categories with 32 specialty areas. Industry insiders said government cybersecurity professionals need the acumen and skills to address the cybersecurity threats at a particular agency while also understanding the type of threats targeting the public sector in general. “It’s absolutely critical for [information security] pros in government to understand that they are unique targets compared to their private-sector colleagues,” said Richard Henderson, global security strategist at endpoint security and data risk management company Absolute Software. “Hacker groups funded by unfriendly countries have likely already scanned and probed the public-facing parts of [government] networks. Intelligence agencies from abroad...may already have spent time determining what sorts of interesting data you keep and how it could be used.” And companies recognize the value of the government’s unique demands on federal cybersecurity professionals. “Given the war for talent, skilled cybersecurity professionals with real-world government experience are also highly sought after in the private sector,” Spires said. In addition, Cynthia James, general manager of KGSS, a subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab North America, said the lack of IT information security talent and thinly stretched resources might be making it even more difficult for would-be rising stars to exert their HOW CYBER PROS CAN S TAY ON TOP OF THEIR GAME Federal information security professionals need the same technical expertise as their private-sector colleagues — but that’s just the beginning 0217fcw_020-021.indd 20 1/24/17 9:42 AM
November and December 2016