The explosion of cyber crime has prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to begin a search for qualified computer experts.
The FBI’s hiring campaign aims to attract computer scientists, IT specialists, engineers and others to law enforcement careers. A listing posted on the federal government’s job board, USAJOBS.gov, included a salary range of $59,340 to $76,568 a year for the position of Special Agent (Cyber).
“Cyber agents will be integrated into all the different violations that we work,” Robert Anderson Jr., executive assistant director of the bureau’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, said in a December 2014 statement. “So whether it’s a counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigation, they could be the lead agent in the case.”
Cyber crime, a broad category that includes website intrusions, botnets, hacking and other attacks, has become a top priority for the bureau. To meet this challenge, the organization is seeking individuals between the ages of 23 and 36 who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and at least three years of full-time work experience dealing with computers or technical matters.
Specifically, the FBI is looking for individuals with backgrounds in areas such as database administration, computer forensics and investigations, computer programming, computer network administration and computer security.
Anderson said the cyber world now plays a role in all of the bureau’s functions. “That’s why these types of people are so important to get into the pipeline and come into our organization,” he said.
Demand for cyber defenders extends beyond the criminal justice system. Globally, nearly 1 million new cybersecurity professionals are required to deal with online threats, according to Cisco’s 2014 Annual Security Report.
Meanwhile, in the United States alone, jobs for information security analysts will increase by 37% between 2012 and 2022, according to federal Department of Labor projections.
In order to be eligible for employment with the FBI, cyber agent candidates must also meet the requirements for all prospective special agents. These include completing an extensive background check and passing a rigorous fitness test. Those hired will be required to complete a 19-week training course at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Cyber agents will also receive additional specialized training.
The FBI had success in the fight against cyber crime in 2014. In June, the agency announced that it had played a role in disrupting the GameOver Zeus botnet, which was suspected in the theft of millions of dollars from consumers and businesses worldwide.
GameOver Zeus was a piece of malware designed to steal banking information from infected computers. Charges were filed against Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev of Russia, the alleged administrator of the botnet, who remained on the FBI’s Cyber Most Wanted list as of early January 2015.
In May, the FBI announced charges against the suspected creators of Blackshades, a piece of malware that infected millions of computers. The Blackshades investigation included more than 100 search warrants executed by 40 FBI field offices. Investigators seized nearly 2,000 domain names used to control victims’ computers. According to the FBI, the investigation involved 18 other countries and resulted in more than 90 arrests.
“We’re looking to hire a lot of cyber agents now,” Anderson said. “It’s an area where the FBI and the whole U.S. government will be looking for this talent for years to come.”