Pentagon seeks industry help to bolster cyber unit

Pentagon seeks industry help to bolster cyber unit
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The Pentagon is asking industry to help round out the military's cybersecurity operations.

The Defense Department’s U.S. Cyber Command is about half staffed, and officials last week offered a contract worth up to $475 million over five years for help to complete its cyber division.

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The department wants outside firms that can develop methods to flush out hackers and disrupt major destructive cyberattacks targeting U.S. networks, according to a request for proposals posted last week.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently laid out his plan to fill out an anticipated 133 cybersecurity teams — roughly 6,200 workers — by the 2018 fiscal year.

Since being appointed in February, Carter has made cybersecurity a top priority. He spearheaded the update of the Pentagon’s cyber strategy, which included an unprecedented focus on offensive cyber capabilities.

It appears private firms will play a large role in developing and maintaining these capabilities. According to documents, the contractor will be expected to supply personnel, products and facilities to support all aspects of the Cyber Command.

The Pentagon contract is part of the government’s broader effort to quickly ramp up its chronically short-staffed cyber workforce.

The FBI in April started taking bids for a contract worth up to $100 million. The bureau is searching for assistance recruiting and retaining top cyber professionals.

Federal agencies have struggled to compete with private firms and Silicon Valley in hiring cyber experts.