Making Sure Security Employees' Skills Stay on Par with Hackers'

My son is majoring in IT security in college, and this weekend, someone asked him what traits a company should look for in an IT security employee. My son smiled slyly and said, "Good hacking skills." His reasoning was that an expert hacker is the best person to exploit flaws in the network-and it is one of the reasons his program requires a class that teaches hacking skills.


The government seems to agree. With recent security breaches, the Office of Personnel Management said that it would be looking at how it hires its IT security employees.


It looks like the government might be auditioning security personnel through the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a competition where participants hacked into as many target computers as possible -- and defended those computers from other attackers. The goal of the Cyber Challenge is to find and develop 10,000 cyber security experts.


Why have a challenge like this? The CNN article stated:


"Organizers say the competition is aimed at identifying young people with exceptional computer skills and inspiring them to join the country's woefully understaffed ranks of cyber-security specialists needed to protect systems used by the military, industry and everyday people."


The need for skilled IT security personnel has never been higher. Two weeks ago, an article in Computerworld reported that cyber attacks on the military have increased sharply in 2009. Treasury and Risk stated that online banking is at greater risk due to the rise in cyber attacks.


Not that I-or the government, for that matter-condones hacking into computers, but as cyber attacks become more sophisticated, it becomes more important for companies to have employees with the right skills to protect their data.

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