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1/14/2011
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Obama Administration Scraps 'Virtual Border'

The over-budget, under-performing multi-billion SBInet, which had only been deployed over 53 miles of border in four years, will be replaced with a more geographically tailored approach.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters

The Department of Homeland Security Friday announced that it will end an over-budget, under-performing "virtual fence" that aimed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and replace it with a more modest and geographically tailored effort.

The project, known as SBInet, has cost about $1 billion thus far, but has only accounted for 53 miles of virtual fence along the Arizona-Mexico border. DHS had been considering major changes to the project since at least last January, when Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a major assessment of SBInet and viable alternatives.

Also last year, Napolitano froze money for the expansion of SBInet beyond its deployment along the highly trafficked Arizona-Mexico border, and denied SBInet $50 million in funding that had been included in the stimulus package.

Going forward, DHS will replace SBInet with a new plan that uses existing technology "tailored to the distinct terrain and population density of each border region," Napolitano said in a statement. This will include the use of UAVs, mobile surveillance, thermal imaging, and remote video surveillance, as well as some successful elements of SBInet, like stationary radar.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

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