FBI Considers 'Cyber Uni' to Attract Coding Experts

FBI boss James Comey has hinted that the agency may be considering relaxing its hiring rules in order to attract more top notch cyber operatives.

The controversial Bureau director got into trouble a few years ago after revealing that he was “grappling with the question right now” of how to attract more computer experts when the FBI has a strict zero tolerance policy on employees smoking cannabis.

The Bureau’s strict screening of applicants excludes anyone who has used the drug in the three years prior to an application.

In several recent speeches Comey has revisited the issue of recruitment problems, suggesting the FBI could build its own university to train up future agents specializing in cyber-skills.

"Our minds are open to all of these things because we are seeking talent in a pool that is increasingly small,” he said at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance event attended by AP.

“So, you're going to see us experiment with a number of different approaches to this.”

Comey has also questioned whether some agents need to be trained in firearms. The formidable training camp at Quantico is another obstacle which may be hindering the FBI’s efforts to recruit the best computer experts.

Comey has apparently suggested that a requirement for those who leave the bureau and return after two years to attend Quantico be dropped.

"I gave the creds for the second time to a 42-year-old cyber agent, and I said, 'So, how was Quantico?' He said, 'It was a nightmare, it was a nightmare.' And so we're trying to figure out, are there ways we should approach this differently to recognize the challenge we have in attracting talent?” Comey is reported saying during a University of Texas speech.

However, public sector organizations are always going to struggle to compete with private sector salaries and benefits, especially given the growing information security skills crisis.

An estimated 1.8 million positions will need to be filled globally by 2022, with the (ISC)2 recently warning countries like the UK are heading for the cliff edge as older practitioners retire without the millennials coming through to replace them.

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