Risk
7/21/2010
12:59 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Cybersecurity Expert Shortage Puts U.S. At Risk

Presidential commission proposes overhauling certifications to increase cybersecurity professional quality and quantity.




Image Gallery: Who's Who In U.S. Intelligence
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
The United States faces a chronic shortage in the quality and quantity of its cybersecurity experts, leaving the nation unprepared to defend itself against increasingly sophisticated online attacks.

"A critical element of a robust cybersecurity strategy is having the right people at every level to identify, build, and staff the defenses and responses. And that is, by many accounts, the area where we are the weakest."

So says "A Human Capital Crisis in Cybersecurity," a new study into computer security manpower challenges and potential solutions released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th President. The CSIS is a bipartisan public and foreign policy think tank in Washington.

According to the commission's report, "we not only have a shortage of the highly technically skilled people required to operate and support systems already deployed, but also an even more desperate shortage of people who can design secure systems, write safe computer code, and create the ever more sophisticated tools needed to prevent, detect, mitigate, and reconstitute from damage due to system failures and malicious acts."

Those warnings were echoed by Jim Gosler, a fellow at Sandia National Laboratory, National Security Agency visiting scientist, and the founding director of the CIA's clandestine information technology office. Speaking to National Public Radio, he said that "we don't have sufficiently bright people moving into this field to support those national security objectives as we move forward in time."

Gosler has previously estimated that the United States requires 10,000 to 30,000 people who are highly skilled at cybersecurity but that currently, only about 1,000 are available.

To help the country beef up its cybersecurity prowess, the CSIS notes that pursuing the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative to attack the problem across multiple domains -- including education and R&D -- should help.

The commission also recommends creating better cybersecurity certifications. Interestingly, it found that "the current professional certification regime is not merely inadequate; it creates a dangerously false sense of security," because certifications focus "on demonstrating expertise in documenting compliance with policy and statutes, rather than expertise in actually reducing risk through identification, prevention, and intervention."

Alan Paller, director of research for SANS, seconded those certification findings and noted that the issue isn't to do with mistakes in designing certification, but simply that the requirements have changed. "Certifications mostly measured soft skills, and that was all that you needed 25 years ago in security," he said. "But as the nation states started using it for military purposes, and organized crime groups started using it for financial crime, it suddenly became serious, and very technical."

Unfortunately, certifications haven't kept up. "If you take any of the common security certifications for auditors or security professionals, you could quite comfortably pass it. But then if I asked you to reverse-engineer the malware used in this Siemens attack, you'd look at me like I was crazy." Today, however, the U.S. desperately needs those technical security experts.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-5242
Published: 2014-10-21
Directory traversal vulnerability in functions/suggest.php in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allows remote attackers to include and execute arbitrary local files via a .. (dot dot) in the name parameter in a get_template action.

CVE-2012-5243
Published: 2014-10-21
functions/suggest.php in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allows remote attackers to read arbitrary database information via a crafted request.

CVE-2012-5702
Published: 2014-10-21
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in dotProject before 2.1.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) callback parameter in a color_selector action, (2) field parameter in a date_format action, or (3) company_name parameter in an addedit action to i...

CVE-2013-7406
Published: 2014-10-21
SQL injection vulnerability in the MRBS module for Drupal allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-2531
Published: 2014-10-21
SQL injection vulnerability in xhr.php in InterWorx Web Control Panel (aka InterWorx Hosting Control Panel and InterWorx-CP) before 5.0.14 build 577 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the i parameter in a search action to the (1) NodeWorx , (2) SiteWorx, or (3) R...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.