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DHS Wants To Hire 1,000 Cybersecurity Experts 222

Cyrus writes "DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to hire 1,000 security experts over the next three years. 'Department officials could not say precisely how many cyberexperts now work at DHS and its various component agencies such as the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Napolitano said she doubts it will be necessary to fill all 1,000 of the authorized positions, but she is focused on making DHS a "world-class cyberorganization."'" Cringely points out, "There aren't one thousand civilian cybersecurity experts in the entire friggin' world!!!!," except he uses all caps and bold.
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DHS Wants To Hire 1,000 Cybersecurity Experts

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  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:33PM (#29636875) Homepage
    ...may as well throw my hat in the ring.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oldspewey ( 1303305 )
      If you have a good shot at faking your way through being a cybersecurity "expert", seems to me this would be a pretty sweet gig. Few things are more entertaining than being paid big bucks to be part of a giant clusterfuck as it unfolds.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:35PM (#29636897)

    Cringely points out, "There aren't one thousand civilian cybersecurity experts in the entire friggin' world!!!!,"

    No matter. These guys will be the "cybersecurity" equivalent of the TSA goons at the airport, probably with a management culture even worse than those poor slobs have to live with.

    • Sir, please take your USB keys out while we scan your network.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass ( 711423 )

      Or they could become overpaid IT techs who can't design an open access website to comply with government accessibility standards. How about 7 million to "install a firewall" from Norton or AVG or something?

    • by NewbieProgrammerMan ( 558327 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:30PM (#29637805)

      Cringely points out, "There aren't one thousand civilian cybersecurity experts in the entire friggin' world!!!!,"

      No matter. These guys will be the "cybersecurity" equivalent of the TSA goons at the airport, probably with a management culture even worse than those poor slobs have to live with.

      I'm sure DeVry and U.o.Phoenix will be glad to pump out several thousand associate degrees in Cybersecurity Expertry or something in the next three years for them to sort through. That way DHS can say they interviewed thousands of candidates and only took "the best."

      • Naaahhh....they'll be offshoring those jobs to Communist China and Communist Vietnam in no time anyway. After all, Corporate America can't compete unless they do on the backs of the Commies....what's this about capitalism? I missed something?????
    • by vegiVamp ( 518171 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:47PM (#29637943) Homepage
      Exactly. They'll be paying (relative) peanuts, so they'll get the not-quite brand of expert, while the brunt of the real threat they're up against consists of a) the real experts they couldn't pay enough to hire, and b) the smart kids who've nothing better to do all day than figure out how shit works.

      Their experts will be very effective, however, against the rather common type of attacker that you can block with the kind of network protection that anyone with half a brain already has. Their effectivity numbers will reflect the number of attacks repelled, and thus they'll be commended for their excellent work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by memnock ( 466995 ), which lists USDA Forest Service jobs, recently informed applicants that from now on SPOUSES of veterans, not just veterans, will receive preference for filling positions. This preference excludes qualification. In other words, you just have to be married to a vet and you can have the govt. job of your choice.

      Before someone says that I'm trying to say the wife of Pfc. John Doe can ask for the EPA director's job, I think there is some limit, especially for executive position (but maybe not), but low

  • When they can make over 6 figures easily, with private company perks and bonuses working outside the government.

    If the DHS wants qualified people, they need to pay a competitive salary. Of course, u

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      GS-15 pays 6 figures. combined with federal Job For Live(TM) job security, retirement perks that will allow you to continue as a "consultant" making the same salary for 20 more years, and virtually unlimited teleworking... i think that is pretty good deal. I'll sign up

      • by headhot ( 137860 )

        There ain't too many Gs-15s. In the corporate world, they would be like SVPs. Most of the technical and engineering people are GS-12 to 13 outside of DC, and 13-14 inside DC.

        • Could you translate that for us nonamerican types ? What would the numbers for those various GS classes add up to ?
  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:37PM (#29636923) Journal

    Is there a major I can take in college?

  • Would knowing that there aren't a thousand experts out there make me an expert?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Would knowing that there aren't a thousand experts out there make me an expert?

      In my expert opinion, no.

    • No, but it does make you way too smart to be a gubment exec.
      • I dunno, gubment execs are the ones smart enough to think we need DHS as if we didn't have the NSA, CIA or the US Marshals.

        Redundant agencies make our lives more secure. They have no risk of creating additional vulnerabilities in the tiny bureaucracy that is our gubment.

  • "...she is focused on making DHS a "world-class cyberorganization."'"

    Because heaven forbid a US federal government agency should be satisfied with being only US class. After all, we have a world to protect from itself.

    • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:24PM (#29637759) Homepage

      That's kind of a bogus observation. If you aren't world-class, then you are at the mercy of those who are. "World-class" doesn't mean "better than anyone else in the world." It just means "good enough to hold your own with the best in the world." Really, everybody needs world-class people. The pity is that not everyone can afford them.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:46PM (#29637031) Homepage long as they can't hire Bruce.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:49PM (#29637059) Homepage

    ..."There aren't one thousand civilian cybersecurity experts in the entire friggin' world!!!!,"

    And he would certainly know, wouldn't he? World-reknowned expert that he is. On everything.

    • by fwr ( 69372 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:30PM (#29637361)
      I would have to agree. Having obtained my CCIE Security this year (no I wasn't the one that passed the new 3.0 blueprint), and having a CISSP for a few years, I can say from my experience that there are likely well over 1000 experts in the country. Heck, we have quite a few experts in the company I work for now, and no it's not Cisco. In fact, Cisco calls us in to fix problems they can't from time to time. I doubt that any of them would want to work directly for the government though; I certainly would not. Consulting work for the government, sure, but not a government employee. His point seems to be that he doesn't know that many security experts, so they must not be out there. From his article, it appears that he knows a few subject matter experts, but he points out himself that they are not all-around experts. To quote "I was an expert in AV, IDS, and other areas. But I was not the all knowing security guru." That's two listed technologies and one all-encompassing "other" category. And apparently this expert "was," no longer "is." Now, I'm not calling them out, and I'm not going to compare resumes in a public forum. I'm just saying, when his own experts say they were an expert, maybe he's not talking to the right experts...
    • by tsm_sf ( 545316 )
      And he would certainly know, wouldn't he? World-reknowned expert that he is. On everything.

      Cringely's more than a bit impressed with himself, and definitely has an opinion on every subject. He also puts some thought into what he says. When he's wrong (frequently) it's always for interesting reasons.
    • by Xugumad ( 39311 )

      Some of the quotes are awesome, if you start reading the article in depth...

      "So I polled six old friends who ARE cybersecurity experts and they kinda-sorta agreed with me." - so, they didn't agree, is what you mean?

      "I'm pretty sure they don't know each other." - So we're talking a group that is apparently terrible at knowing about each other, to estimate how many there are?

      "I was an expert in AV, IDS, and other areas. But I was not the all knowing security guru." - So, the press release says "security exper

    • This is the same Cringely that's an "expert" on the user interfaces of nuclear power plants [], isn't it? Does he have some sort of credentials that might actually make him an expert in cyber security? Looking on his site....

      When it comes to information technology, Cringely knows what he is talking about. Thirty years in and around the PC business has earned him wisdom, if not wealth. It's not that he is so smart, but his friends are smart. The best and brightest in Silicon Valley talk to him all the time. It's Cringely's job to sift through their thoughts for valuable bits to share with you.

      So just like his venture into nuclear power expert-ness, his IT knowledge is at best second-hand.

      Thanks to the submitter for the links to an actual story, though. :)

  • by maugle ( 1369813 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:54PM (#29637101)
    Will you idiots please stop prefixing stuff with "cyber"? I know you're trying to make yourselves sound all cool and tech-savvy, but all you're really doing is sounding like someone from a bad 80s sci-fi movie.

    "Cyberorganization"? What the hell does that even mean? You use computers and computer networks? Computers and computer networks are your primary focus? Big goddamn deal! You don't see Microsoft or IBM or Cisco calling themselves "cybercorporations", do you?

    Look at me, I spend a lot of my time on the Internet! I'm a cyberperson!
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:11PM (#29637241) Homepage

    DHS's cyber security operation is headed by Phil Reitinger [], who's from Microsoft. So DHS won't be allowed to do anything that would seriously impact Microsoft's business models. Which means nothing significant will happen. Here's his list of priorities. [] You'll see the problem.

    The first guy in that job, Amit Yoran, came out and said the big problem was weak security in Microsoft operating systems. He was ignored, then quit in disgust. The next guy was Cisco's lobbyist, who was not only useless, the job was downgraded during his tenure.

    I'm not expecting much from that crowd.

    • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:20PM (#29637733)

      Then you're forgetting the negative things that could happen. Like Linux declared a threat to national security.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      From the referenced link on list of priorities:

      Building Partnerships: "We're defining our partnership models, making sure they're as efficient as possible, that they let the private sector work effectively with us and as one, and we're starting the process of developing a national cyberincident response process..."

      Translation: If it's a problem with a security exposure in Microsoft Windows, hand it over to Microsoft to deal with. Let them do the coverup.

    • Wow, awesome selection of priorities. They're mostly subjective, with no way to measure whether they're achieved or not. Great for hand-waving excuses later about why nothing gets done.

      Anyway, do you have a reference for Yoran's statements on weak Windows security? I must have chosen the wrong keywords when I looked for them.

    • by mikael ( 484 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @05:19PM (#29638211)

      Notice the focus on words like "ecosystem", "religion" and placing the blame on machines and people. No mention of vulnerable drivers, protocols or applications.

      Practical things would be

      o Develop reliable methods of network protocol design to prevent vulnerabilites in network services.

      o Proper application design so that the above aren't compromised by feature bloat of applications. "Hey, let's add macros and automatic E-mail sending/receiving to our application. Never know when it might come in useful".

    • by Bootarn ( 970788 )

      From the list

      Identity Management. âoeIf weâ(TM)re going to allow people to protect themselves, theyâ(TM)re going to need to be able to make effective decisions about, do they want to communicate with this person or not, do they want to open this file, do they want to open this program, do they want to allow a machine to connect to their machineâ¦â

      Does he want everyone to run Vista?

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:12PM (#29637247)
    and here's a good first choice: pick a more secure operating system for their servers and workstations. Last I heard, Microsoft had a fat contract to supply Windows to DHS. If they really want to make themselves look good (from a security perspective) dropping Microsoft would be a good first step.
  • by gqx ( 1293372 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:17PM (#29637271)

    I have a fairly long track record in the security industry, and I'm really puzzled by Cringely's assertion. It's hard to tell if he is trying to make a point out of a semantic squabble, or if he genuinely believes that the information security community has fewer than 1,000 competent experts.

    If the former, yeah, the term "cybersecurity expert" is unfortunate - but it's clear it's just PR speak for "information security professional". Cringely then attempts to define that first, largely meaningless term, and then polls his anonymous friends (who themselves probably do not fall within that definition) to come up with wild guessess.

    If the latter, yes, we definitely have more than 1,000 security experts. There is something around 500 emitent, internationally recognized folks publishing books, research, and otherwise contributing to the "cutting edge" of the industry. Then there's another 500-1,000 top-tier, notable security VPs, CEOs, etc, working for Fortune 500 companies (they may not all be technically savvy, but they *are* the industry). Then, there is probably something close to 200,000 security professionals working for companies around the world - we have something like 50,000 registered CISSPs alone (which is a certification largely inaccessible to hobbyists, and pursued by a minority of infosec workers), something around 50,000 subscribers to BUGTRAQ and other security mailing lists, etc.

    Does this mean that DHS would be able to hire 1,000 competent experts? Unlikely, as the government historically did a pretty poor job of competing with commercial corporations (in terms of compensation and work culture), and many agencies may lack the hiring rigor and expertise to make the right calls. Given the size of the networked infrastructure in the US, this number is high, but does not sound outlandish by itself, though (many large corporations have 20-100 security people on their payroll).

  • by MrOion ( 19950 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:17PM (#29637273)

    What is a security expert? Is it people who believe that they are experts in one single area, and that area is called security?

    I work with IT security for a living, and there are many areas within that field. We have people who are good at network and data analysis, some who can reverse engineer malware, others who do a good forensics job, one group focuses on incident response and others works with standards and procedures. And this is just a few areas. Encryption is a part of this. Tempest too.

    So again, what is a security expert? One who is an expert in one or all of this areas? What is DHS looking for?

  • by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:23PM (#29637299)
    Now we can get all those BA's and MBAs with a single computer course on how to use Windows out of the commercial job market and into the government where they belong.
  • I sure hope that DHS knows exactly what a cybersecurity expert is...
  • by Max_W ( 812974 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:31PM (#29637371)

    Spammers brings much more harm to the world economy than Afghan tribesmen. Billions of people are working as slaves for free for spammers sorting out and deleting their junk day and night. Billions of hours of working time are being stolen as matter of course.

    Maybe the DHS decided at last to tackle this problem? These experts and predators could make the word to sigh with relief. Godspeed!

  • Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    security expert=security professional

    And as everyone knows, professional=employed

    So, they are saying that they're going to employ 1000 people with security nametags.

    Business as usual, in other words.

  • by TSHTF ( 953742 )

    This paragraph from the article is probably the most interesting point:

    "Another item of great importance is a security clearance to do the work. This is where you will get only one brand of thinking; DoD or DoE clearance. This will prohibit the security "black hat" types from ever being involved in the project without coming from the DoD or Energy."

    This will limit the pool of resources to such an extent to make the project worthless.

    • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:26PM (#29637769) Journal

      I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the DHS doesn't need uber-black hat types doing security for them. What they are looking for is a small army of semi-competent employees who can go from agency to agency, department to department and secure them by implementing generally accepted best practices. They need firewalls installed with the rulesets locked down. They need IDS and IPS devices configured. They need anti-virus and anti-malware on the workstations. They need VLANs configured, servers locked down, disaster recovery plans designed and implemented, etc.

      This is the government we're talking about. They aren't looking for the best of the best. They're looking for good enough to get the job done. Maybe you guys have heard of the saying, "It's good enough for government work." ?? The DHS doesn't need anything that your average small business or Fortune ## organization doesn't need. They just need clean workstations, secure servers and reliable data. They need to be able to process their reams and reams of paperwork and forms and all the other nonsense that comes with the huge machinery of the Federal government.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hedwards ( 940851 )
      Except that none of the major anti-virus companies will hire black hat types and I'd be surprised if other forms of anti-malware were going to hire those sorts. It's just more hassle than it's worth. You're not sure when, if ever, they'll be arrested, if they're still active at their craft, going to try and sneak out proprietary information for sale to others.

      It's not accident that reputable companies won't hire them.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:50PM (#29637519) Homepage

    But that doesn't mean they will. And quite frankly, my experience with DHS has been that to make something happen, they hire an incompetent contractor to do the screening and hiring for them which, in turn, hires a the first 1000 people with resumes who have enough of the right keywords matching on their resumes.

    I once worked for the TSA and I was astounded by the criteria, or lack thereof, in their hiring practices. One teenager was hired on in a supervisory role simply because he applied for it and was early enough in the list of applicants to have not yet filled out their supervisor staffing. Why was this teenager qualified? He wasn't. We knows this because it was his first job...ever! This kid hadn't even mowed a lawn for pocket change.

    The DHS screens at airports but barely anywhere else. The airport screeners are beholden to the air carriers and quite literally have to follow their instructions at times. Meanwhile the border crossings of the U.S. were wide open for years and years before people took any notice.

    Putting important organizations like FEMA under the DHS showed the world what a great move that was when the hurricane season came in with great force. The only thing we really got out of that was "FEMA Camps" where the angle of the razor wire seems to be be intended to keep people "in" rather than "out" and has U.S. Army equipment parked on it. (Google "FEMA Camps" for more information on the topic... scary... freakin' scary)

    The DHS is the agency under the executive that most represents the words "power grab" and "power consolidation."

    • The DHS is the agency under the executive that most represents the words "power grab" and "power consolidation."

      Agreed. We've had a national security state since the 1950's -- since the nineteen-teens, if you want to count Federal raids during the Palmer Red Scare -- and yet we're told we need more and newer agencies. The FBI and the CIA won't do. Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Council, not good enough. Tobacco and Firearms ... Christ, how did those two get lumped together? And the list goe

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:59PM (#29637583) Homepage
    is that they can then say that "we are doing everything that we can, look: we have employed lots of experts. By the way can we have some more budget."

    Summary: DHS gets to look more important.

    If that is all that they do then be thankful. Be fearful that they start to push pointless rules on everyone.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @04:30PM (#29637813) Homepage

    ... but there are surely tens of thousands of people that currently have, or can get, cyber security certification. This is good enough for government work.

  • "Secretary Napolitano says she might not need all 1,000, which to me says she is really looking for 3-5 people. And frankly that ought to be enough if they are truly experts and are both properly led and supported" Cringely is insane (or very misinformed) if he thinks that 5 really good people will be able to make a dent in the role that will be required of DHS as they attempt to secure there own network. When the DHS takes on the task of guarding all government networks.

    And yes there are over 1000 experts

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Skapare ( 16644 )

      1000 people who think they are security experts would do far more harm than 5 people who actually are.

  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs&ovi,com> on Sunday October 04, 2009 @05:08PM (#29638117) Homepage

    I think you can lay the blame at Chicago's loss of the Olympics squarely at the feet of DHS and Customs enforcement. The USA is NOT a friendly place to visit. I wish President Obama would have put an end to this Bush era foolishness, but it seems he wanted to cuddle up with the right wing Republicans instead. Strike, one. Strike, two.

  • For any specific topic, there is exactly 1 (one) expert. All the rest are just people with less expertise proclaiming themselves to be experts, yet denying people with less expertise than that the same title. So who decides where to draw the line of what we call an "expert"? In the end it's always a subjective title.

    If you define "expert" as "the 999 best", then indeed there are not 1,000 experts in the world.

    If you define "expert" in this context as somebody who can take a random website or system and inde

  • I think Cringley is defining "security expert" as someone who is in the process of completing or has completed a doctorate in computer science and done significant peer reviewed research in the area of network security, while the government is seeing a "security expert" as someone with a CS background and some coursework in security or someone with advanced security certs (Eg: CISSP)

    The term "expert" has a very different meanings in acadmenia than in industry/government.

  • Napolitano said she doubts it will be necessary to fill all 1,000 of the authorized positions, but she is focused on making DHS a "world-class cyberorganization."

    Nice to know that we're hiring a bunch of random people for spits and giggles. Wasn't there some sort of economic crisis, or did that fix itself up already?

  • Cyber god for hire. I can run malwarebytes and av. Meh!

Loose bits sink chips.