Senior official describes cyber workforce shortage as national security threat

Senior official describes cyber workforce shortage as national security threat
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A senior cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday described challenges with recruiting cybersecurity workers to government as a “national security issue.”

“From my perspective, this is going to be a national security issue, if it isn’t already,” Richard Driggers, the deputy assistant director for Cybersecurity at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said during Fifth Domain’s CyberCon event.

Driggers added that “we have a major deficit across the nation with regards to our cybersecurity workforce, and we need to figure out how we can build and sustain a cybersecurity workforce as a national asset for America.”

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According to a report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in January, the U.S. faced a shortfall of around 314,000 unfilled cybersecurity professionals as of the beginning of this year. It is projected that the global cybersecurity workforce shortage will reach 1.8 million unfilled positions by 2022. 

In order to address this threat, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE issued an executive order in May to boost the federal cybersecurity workforce.

“The Nation is experiencing a shortage of cybersecurity talent and capability, and innovative approaches are required to improve access to training that maximizes individuals’ cybersecurity knowledge, skills, and abilities,” Trump wrote in the executive order.

Bipartisan legislation was also recently introduced in the Senate that would boost cyber education programs in multiple federal agencies and incentivize the recruitment of cyber educators. 

Another bill, the Cyber Ready Workforce Act, was introduced in both the House and Senate in May in order to fund cyber apprenticeships, but has not seen action in either chamber. 

Driggers emphasized that the problem of cybersecurity workforce shortages is one that poses a major threat to pushing back against attacks on the nation. 

“As cyber threats continue to evolve, the nation’s protections against them relies on a steady stream of qualified cybersecurity professionals entering the workforce,” Driggers said. “This is in my mind a national imperative.”