As more of the nation's data is stored electronically, the need to protect this information has never been greater, especially among the military. For this reason, the U.S. Army is striving to create its first cyber brigade composed of highly skilled, college-educated soldiers, the Army Times reports.
"We are building intelligence soldiers that can operate out there to detect threats against our networks, to characterize where those threats are coming from and to provide [analysis] to defenders and hunters inside the network who will cut that threat off," said Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
Last year, the Army established the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, and is now striving to fill its two battalions with qualified cyber security experts who can detect online threats and protect military networks. The brigade will feature a mix of civilian contractors and soldiers.
Uniformed soldiers who wish to enter the brigade will first become cryptologic network warfare specialists, and must then complete three to five years of training to ensure their skills and preparedness before joining operational teams.
Soldiers in the ranks of sergeant through sergeant first class who qualify for the training program and become cryptologic network warfare specialists will be given bonuses ranging from $9,400 to $32,200, the Army Times states.
Still, it is not just the Army that is desperate for cyber security experts. In recent years, all branches of the military have found that in order to truly protect themselves and the nation, they must keep their networks secure.
"We need to be on the cutting edge with everyone else, from the teenager to the terrorist," Lt. Gen. Michael Basia, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, said at the Space Foundation's Cyber 1.1 2011 conference. "For this domain, big brains are more important than big guns or big brawn."