recommended reading

Defense officials: Sequestration cuts would be 'devastating' for cybersecurity

Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers said he worries that the mandatory cuts would prevent him from being able to protect vital programs.

Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers said he worries that the mandatory cuts would prevent him from being able to protect vital programs. // United States Navy file photo

Potential budget cuts under sequestration would take a major toll on efforts to fight cyberthreats, top officers from each of the military branches warned a House Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday.

“It would be devastating,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot told the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

Not only would current efforts to boost military cybercapabilities falter, but past advancements could be undone, she said. “We would actually lose ground in this important area.”

Vautrinot’s fears were echoed by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, who said that across-the-board cuts, which would happen if Congress doesn’t agree on budget measures, could undermine efforts to retain and train enough people to handle cybersecurity operations.

In addition, the speed at which various military cyber programs have to acquire new technology, such as software, means that any cuts could disproportionately hurt cybersecurity, he said.

Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, said he worries that the mandatory cuts would prevent him from being able to protect vital programs.

Lawmakers on the panel questioned whether the military could retain and train enough people to man the keyboards at the various cyber commands.

The federal government needs 20,000 more cybersecurity professionals, on top of the 117,000 full-time civilian, contractor, and military employees already dedicated to the problem, according to an estimate by Ed Giorgio, former chief cryptographer at the National Security Agency, and Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, a cybersecurity training organization.

Meanwhile, the number of computer-science graduates dropped from 60,000 in 2004 to just 43,000 in 2007, the latest year for which data are available, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Despite the concerns over lean government budgets and competition from civilian cybersecurity firms, the panel of leaders agreed that the military is, in general, hanging on to its most talented cybersecurity troops.

“Increasingly these men and women view themselves as warriors,” said Rogers, who added that retention has exceeded his expectations. That opportunity to be a “cyberwarrior” is not found at private companies, even if they offer potentially more lucrative pay, he said.

The Senate is on the verge of considering broad cybersecurity legislation that would, among other things, boost federal efforts to train and recruit cybersecurity professionals.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.