Pentagon Plans Elite Cyber Teams

Susan Hall
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Ten Questions to Ask a Recruiter (And One to Avoid)

With warnings increasing of the threat of cyber attack against U.S. infrastructure and financial institutions, Gen. Keith Alexander outlined to Congress plans to build 13 teams at the Pentagon’s Cyber Command to go on the offensive.

Alexander heads the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command. He warned, however, that budget cuts will undermine efforts to fend off cyber attacks, according to The Washington Post. He was especially critical of sequestration forcing furloughs of civilian employees, noting that a third of the command’s employees are Air Force civilians.

At the same time, Alexander told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there have been more than 160 disruptive attacks on banks recently, saying:

“We’ve seen the attacks on Wall Street over the last six months grow significantly.”

Another 27 teams are planned to support operations such as the Pacific Command and the Central Command as they plan offensive cyber capabilities.

An interesting piece at Federal Times details some of the challenges associated with the Pentagon’s plans for massive expansion of its cyber force.

It quotes Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a private school that trains cybersecurity experts for the military and private businesses, as saying:

“People are going to fight for these jobs. This wouldn’t have worked just a few years ago, because no one thought there were great careers in cyber. That has changed.”

The positions are expected to be filled from within the military and from the private sector – though the DoD cyber training has come under criticism.

Some see the military having to offer the type of bonuses and extended service agreements used with doctors and pilots to retain top cyber talent and to recoup training costs. The article quotes Paller:

“I think they are going to run competitions and talent searches among all the enlisted members and officers to find the people who have natural talent for this — they play with computers, they love computers and they have lots of little skills.”

And using reservists, who are part-time and who telecommute, might be another option, the story says.

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