Lack of Cyber Career Paths and Training Standards Stymies Security

The Senate's failure to pass comprehensive legislation could stall progress.

Agencies are making some great strides in carving out a space for cybersecurity professionals, but the failure of the Senate earlier this month to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation could stall that progress, according to one expert.

Eric Cole, a senior fellow at the SANS Institute, told Wired Workplace on Monday that the lack of strong standards for training and certification and a lack of a clear and defined career path for cyber workers are some of the most critical issues currently facing cybersecurity. The 2012 Cybersecurity Act, which was voted down by the Senate on Aug. 2, would have required strong certification standards and helped build clearer and more rewarding career paths for federal cyber professionals.

“The people in charge of cybersecurity often have less oversight and certification than the person who cuts my hair,” Cole said. “You could argue that getting a bad haircut may ruin your day or week, but why is it that someone who cuts hair has to get licensed and validated, when there are areas where people who secure very important computer systems have no oversight, no certification and no accreditation. To me, that’s where our focus has to be – to make sure that [cybersecurity professionals] really have the skills needed to accomplish the mission.”

Cole said that while some attempts by the government -- such as Defense Department directive 8570, which provides guidance and procedures for training and certifying cyber workers -- are positive starts, what is really needed is more detail. “We need the top-notch folks who in some cases get paid more than their managers,” he said. “What we really need is much more detail, such as the five levels of expertise needed and the requirements and skills to be able to do the job.”

Cole recommended a similar model to that used for training military pilots, who have clear guidelines on what is necessary to do the job, such as classroom and hands-on training. “We need to almost use the same model for classifying information security professionals,” he said.

Still, it’s not just about defining the skills and expertise necessary to do the job. Cole said agencies also are having a difficult time recruiting and retaining cybersecurity workers, pointing to the fact that just a quick search on USAJOBS.gov pulls up more than 4,500 information security job openings, 700 of which are in the Washington area.

Part of the recruiting and retention challenge is that many of the nation’s top schools are training international students who return to their home countries after graduating, including those that present a cyber threat to the U.S., Cole said. Another challenge is that many cyber workers come into government, get top-notch training and experience and then move on to the private sector, which often pays considerably higher salaries, he added.

“The government needs to do what the military does by requiring a service commitment from employees, to say, if we give you great training, then you have to give us three years of service before you can leave,” Cole said.

Even despite tight budgets, Cole said he believes agencies could leverage current internal employees by training those currently in IT jobs in computer security. The key, he said, is finding workers who are not only technical but also creative problem-solvers. “If you look at other disciplines, there are some really smart, creative people who could be very effective at cybersecurity,” he said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.