Black Hat 2012: There’s not enough smart people in information security, says DHS

At Black Hat 2012 in Vegas, July 26 2012, Weatherford who advised he was representing Department of Homeland Security, argued that despite the perception that the government is “clueless in the cyber arena, it’s certainly not true”. He argued that the government is technologically advanced, and has a lot of smart people. They talent pipeline, however, is “drying up”, he said and asked the audience to raise their hands if they had all the talent they needed currently in their organization. Nobody raised their hand.

“Historically, the government have not been known for innovation and thinking outside the box”, admitted Weatherford. “But technology has changed that and we are hiring people from the private sector to bring in new ways of thinking.”

Weatherford called on the industry to go into schools and “educate children that this is a good career choice and they can make a decent living from it”. The government and industry need to work together “to make cybersecurity cool and identify and cultivate new talented professionals to work in this industry”.

Defending the critical infrastructure, of which approximately 85% is privately owned and operated, “requires innovation, bold thinking, and a collaborative effort”, continued Weatherford. “Partnerships and information sharing are essential.” To further that call to action, Weatherford declared his ambition that DHS become the key organization that private sector looks to for support in protecting critical infrastructure.”

Weatherford also has ambitions to make DHS a career stop on every information security professional’s career path. “We have cool work, cool tools, and a cool mission: to protect the nation”, he said, adding that they are looking to recruit new talent.

DHS have three major cyber responsibilities, Weatherford advised. “To secure the dot gov environment, help the private sector defend critical infrastructure, and lead and coordinate the response to all major cyber incidents.”

Weatherford condenses DHS objectives and areas of focus into three categories:
1. Creating and achieving a world-class work force in DHS
2. Operational excellence
3. Strengthening the partnership between the private and public sectors

In order to achieve the above objectives, said Weatherford, the industry needs to discuss and champion the industry with everyone, get better at building security in and make it more usable, and automate as much as you can.

“Technology has come so far”, Weatherford concluded. “As a nation, we need everyone to be engaged in raising the effort of [information] security.”

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