Defense Department Plans Massive Boost in Cybersecurity Staff

    The Defense Department plans a five-fold increase in it cybersecurity force over the next few years to help protect vital systems in the United States, and also to go on the offensive, The Washington Post reports.

    The Defense Department’s Cyber Command, created three years ago, plans three types of fighting forces, the article says:

    “national mission forces” to protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids, power plants and other infrastructure deemed critical to national and economic security; “combat mission forces” to help commanders abroad plan and execute attacks or other offensive operations; and “cyber protection forces” to fortify the Defense Department’s networks.

    Federal Computer Week quotes Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying on NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams”:

    “What I worry about is that [a cyberattack] could be used to implant a destructive device that could cause significant harm to the industrial base, whether it’s critical infrastructure or the financial network.”

    Staff at the Cyber Command is expected to grow from about 900 troops and civilians to about 4,900. Just last week, the Air Force said it would add 1,000 cyber specialists – mostly civilians – to the 6,000 already employed there by 2014.

    How the military will find so many qualified cyber pros remains the question. The federal government has been struggling to define cybersecurity skills and roles. A 2011 audit by the General Accountability Office found fragmented and overlapping efforts to attract, manage and retain the federal cybersecurity work force.

    And all this hiring depends on having the budget to do so, and that’s always an iffy proposition.

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