Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

5/16/2019
10:00 AM
Ryan Shaw
Ryan Shaw
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

Cyber Workforce Exec Order: Right Question, Wrong Answer

Shuffling resources, adding administrative process, and creating a competition and incentive system will do little to grow and mature the talent we need to meet the cybersecurity challenges we face.

The recent Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce is intended to bolster public sector cybersecurity talent and improve our ability to hire, train, and retain a skilled workforce. Unfortunately, it ignores the real challenges we face in securing our public infrastructure: high turnover, outdated models, and an excess of administrative processes. Instead, the EO focuses on a series of relatively superficial initiatives seemingly designed to get people more excited about cybersecurity. These include:

• A cybersecurity rotational program
• A common skill set lexicon/taxonomy based on the NICE framework
• An annual cybersecurity competition with financial and other rewards for civilian and military participants 
• An annual cyber education award presented to elementary and secondary school educators
• A skills test to evaluate cyber aptitude in the public sector workforce

While it's great to see the continued focus on addressing our substantial national cyber challenges, this Executive Order is an attempt to address a severe talent shortage by shuffling resources, adding administrative process, and creating a competition and incentive system that will do little to grow and mature the cyber labor force. 

It is time to accept that we won't be able to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings any time in the foreseeable future. By taking some tough, but necessary, steps to transform the way our workforce does its job every day, we can begin to address our collective challenges and position the cybersecurity workforce for sustainable success. These steps should include: 

Reducing bureaucracy: The answer is not to add administrative overhead to an already understaffed workforce through more classifications, testing, competitions, and standards.

Rethinking our assumptions: We need to revisit staffing models and procurements that require large numbers of people, because "that is how we have always done things." Instead, we must focus on getting more efficiencies and capability out of the teams that exist today, by implementing new performance measures, focused on the achievement of end goals and not technology justification. In addition, we need to transition from task-based hiring to roles focused on current problem sets.

Focusing on automation: Our staffing requirements are growing to a level that are, and will continue to be, impossible to meet. If we're going to encourage competition and innovation, we should focus on ways to augment the people we already have in our workforce to make them more productive through automation versus only automating basic tasks.

Improving engagement and retention: We need to ask some tough questions about why cyber retention in the federal government is so low. One answer is that operators are too bogged down with administrative processes, arduous clearance requirements, and compliance-driven activities that result in extremely low job satisfaction. Cyber competitions can be great fun, but our public sector resources are much better spent making the daily jobs of our workforce just as rewarding and engaging.

The cyber talent gap is a real problem, caused in large part by conditions we ourselves have created. The solution is to revisit the way our workforce does its job on a daily basis to better empower our workers. Fortunately, it's possible to do that using current investments in people and technology. Building and sustaining our national cybersecurity workforce is a big challenge. We must think equally big if we're going to meet that challenge head on. 

Related Content:

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Ryan's experience spans over 20 years, having secured systems at US Attorneys' offices across the country, the Transportation Security Administration and throughout the private sector. Most recently, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Foreground Security. He is currently ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
How Attackers Infiltrate the Supply Chain & What to Do About It
Shay Nahari, Head of Red-Team Services at CyberArk,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-13971
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
OTCMS 3.81 allows XSS via the mode parameter in an apiRun.php?mudi=autoRun request.
CVE-2019-13972
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
LayerBB 1.1.3 allows XSS via the application/commands/new.php pm_title variable, a related issue to CVE-2019-17997.
CVE-2019-13973
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
LayerBB 1.1.3 allows admin/general.php arbitrary file upload because the custom_logo filename suffix is not restricted, and .php may be used.
CVE-2019-13974
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
LayerBB 1.1.3 allows conversations.php/cmd/new CSRF.
CVE-2019-13977
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
index.php in Ovidentia 8.4.3 has XSS via tg=groups, tg=maildoms&idx=create&userid=0&bgrp=y, tg=delegat, tg=site&idx=create, tg=site&item=4, tg=admdir&idx=mdb&id=1, tg=notes&idx=Create, tg=admfaqs&idx=Add, or tg=admoc&idx=addoc&item=.