Dickie George, the technical director of the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA's) Information Assurance Directorate, says the shortage of cybersecurity professionals is a "huge problem" for the agency because it forces it to compete with other federal agencies and private companies for a limited number of qualified employees. He says that although the shortage of cybersecurity professionals is not making the NSA insecure, it is making the task of securing the information technology systems of the military, the intelligence community, and civilian agencies more difficult.
Nevertheless, the NSA is taking steps to ensure that it has enough cybersecurity professionals. For instance, it has partnered with 106 universities around the United States through the Centers of Academic Excellence to ensure that computer science students are getting hands-on training in cybersecurity. This focus on hands-on learning has helped spur interest among students in getting into the cybersecurity field, George says.
"We need to work hard with the universities to not only get the right people interested, but we have to start at a young enough age that they understand that there is a future there for them and that they can do something in science that is meaningful and challenging," he says.
Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA