Homeland Security pushes pay boost for cyber pros

Cybersecurity analysts at the Homeland Security Department.

Cybersecurity analysts at the Homeland Security Department. Mark J. Terrill/AP file photo

Cybersecurity legislation granting its wish looks likely to fail this year.

The Homeland Security Department made a final pitch to Congress to equalize pay packages for DHS cyber professionals and their higher-paid Pentagon counterparts, as cybersecurity legislation looked likely to stall for the third consecutive year.

“This legislation takes an important step in terms of hiring and retaining personnel,” DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute said Wednesday afternoon, referring to a White House-backed Senate cybersecurity bill that is faltering amid partisan divides.

The measure, S.3414, states that the DHS “secretary may exercise with respect to qualified employees of the department the same authority of that the secretary of Defense has with respect to civilian intelligence personnel . . . to establish as positions in the excepted service, to appoint individuals to those positions and [to] fix pay.”

DHS expects higher salaries and better benefits will provide more leverage in hiring scarce talent from competitors inside and outside government. As of last week, the Air Force reported a cyber workforce of about 17,000 personnel and the Army counted more than 21,000 information security guardians. Estimates by DHS, the Defense Department and the Government Accountability Office tallied fewer than 1,500 DHS cyber professionals compared with 66,000 to 88,000 pros Defensewide.

But any major computer security bill is unlikely until 2013, for reasons ranging from election campaigning to fears of big government, political experts say.

In the meantime, DHS is trying to get creative with existing authorities to attract new employees. For instance, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on June 6 announced a new task force will devise workforce-building strategies such as cyber competitions, enhanced public-private programs and cooperation with other departments to “develop an agile cyber workforce across the federal government,” officials said in a statement.

Alan Paller, research director at the SANS Institute, a computer security training center, and Jeff Moss, founder of the annual Black Hat and DefCon hacker conferences, are co-chairing the advisory panel.

“They came up with the coolest solutions to the cyber manpower problem I have ever seen,” Paller said on Wednesday, declining to elaborate on the ideas because of advisory committee nondisclosure rules. “There is no doubt in my mind they will work and that they will work quickly.”

According to Paller, other members of the 15-person task force include Steve Adegbite, director of strategic cyber innovations for Lockheed Martin Corp.; Asheem Chandna, a partner at venture capital company Greylock Partners; Larry Cockell, a 20-year Secret Service veteran now serving as chief security officer at Time Warner; Mike Papay, senior vice president of cyber initiatives for Northrop Grumman Corp.; Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan; and Rita Wells, an Idaho National Laboratory researcher who oversees industrial control system test beds.

On Wednesday, Lute, along with military and intelligence officials, spoke with reporters during a conference call about the urgency of passing legislation. Among other things, Homeland Security wants the law to clarify that DHS is the federal government’s lead agency for protecting the networks operating critical infrastructure, such as power lines and dams.

“It’s a mission we’re already performing,” she said. Lute compared critical infrastructure to the “endoskeleton of modern life.”

Eric Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, said the Senate legislation would cement DHS as the “digital front door” in cybersecurity, without preventing the military and other agencies from conducting sensitive network operations. The thinking is DHS would take the lead in partnering with critical sectors on information sharing to ensure military forces and law enforcement agents do not violate Americans’ privacy while executing their cyber missions.

Still, even if the measure passes this week before Congress adjourns for summer vacation, the House, which approved a different bill in April, would need time to reconcile inconsistencies with the Senate.

“Both bills have fallen prey to the limits of the current American political climate, where special interests and disputes over the appropriate role of government have combined to harm national security -- and, as a result, neither will do much to protect the United States from cyber threats,” James A. Lewis, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who advises Congress and the Obama administration, wrote Tuesday in Foreign Affairs.

He lamented that neither bill will compel companies to take steps to secure their networks.

“Congress could fix this if it revised the [Senate] cybersecurity act one more time to give the federal government the ability to mandate compliance with reasonable standards when this is needed to defend the nation, but there is probably not enough time before Congress goes out of session to do this,” Lewis wrote. “Most observers believe that the United States will only get effective cybersecurity legislation after there has been a crisis and that the country will then overreact, trampling privacy and putting in place rigid requirements.”

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.