Janet Napolitano, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary, recently stated that DHS will adhere to recommendations from the Homeland Security Advisory Council's Task Force on CyberSkills and hire at least 600 cyber security experts, the Federal Times reports. These professionals will include IT specialists, analysts, cyber experts and individuals who are familiar with coding.
Napolitano created the task force in June to come up with a list of recommendations to produce additional cyber security experts, particularly for the DHS. While the task force's report stated that the DHS should hire an additional 600 cyber security experts, it says this has been difficult for the department in the past, as it has not properly identified the skills professionals need to prevent cyber threats. Additionally, the report states that the DHS has often relied on contractors, which does not leave enough positions open for federal employees.
Still, the DHS must also compete with other federal agencies who are actively recruiting cyber security experts. According to The Washington Post, the DHS is currently competing with the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to hire talented professionals who can write code, probe computer systems for vulnerabilities and detect engineer malware.
"They're all stealing from each other," Alan Paller, research director of the SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security) Institute, told the Post. "There's a head-to-head battle between the CIA and NSA for every new cyber employee. Now, the DHS is in the fight too."
Given the fierce competition to hire more cyber security experts, many higher education professionals are advising students that if they want to find high-paying, fast-growing careers, they should earn a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer science, cyber security or a related field. With this credential, they may be able to land one of the many cyber security positions in the federal government.