Feds Try to Define Ideal Cyber Security Pro

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Back in November I wrote about a survey by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium in which 75 percent of the IT security pros who responded pointed to a lack of career path for the dearth of federal IT security workers.


That group opposed a government body to oversee security certifications, while a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies favored one, reports Executivegov.com.


As it turns out, the Office of Personnel Management has been trying to build a profile of the ideal cyber security worker, polling agencies about their needs and the skills and functions these people would fulfill. That profile is complete now and the OPM for now does not plan to create a new career path or "series" for cyber security pros, reports Federal News Radio.


In an interview, Nancy Kichak, OPM's associate director for employee services, said of the findings:

We have learned that cybersecurity is extremely broad, including some areas in engineering and telecommunications. It's not apparent to us that there is a one-size fits all definition. ...

You can read that definition here. She's not kidding when she says it's "quite long."

It is policy and standards regarding security of operations in cyberspace. It encompasses threat reduction, vulnerability reduction, deterrence, international engagement, incident response, recovery policies and activities, information assurance, law enforcement and intelligence missions as they relate to the security and stability of global information.

It will standardize expectations as agencies recruit or train cyber security workers, she said, which is considered one of its big plusses.


According to Nextgov.com, the OPM sought input from 50,000 workers and supervisors to define the ideal skill set. The top competencies included integrity, computer skills, technical competence, teamwork, attention to detail, interpersonal skills, communications security management, self-management, reading and customer service. These skills ranked lower:

  • computer network defense (ranked No. 21)
  • stress tolerance (No. 23)
  • organizational awareness (No. 27)
  • network security (No. 32)


It says the results will be used to create competency models for four occupations:


  • information technology management
  • electronics engineering
  • computer engineering
  • telecommunications


Of course the military is leading the charge to hire more cyber security pros, with the Defense Department expected to hire 1,000 such workers a year over the next several years. And Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George Flynn recently told a House Armed Services Committee hearing that the Marines must do a better job in recruiting and retaining cyber security workers. Meanwhile, the Army's new Cyber Command is gearing up as quickly as it can, with active-duty personnel as well as civilians. Total eventual head count is expected to be around 21,000, according to defensesystems.com.


While the government's working on that, you can study the security job descriptions posted here at IT Business Edge to learn the duties commonly associated with various IT job titles.