As the federal government continues to ramp up its hiring of cybersecurity personnel, a critical shortage still remains. Because of this, the U.S. Defense Department is looking to form close bonds with cybersecurity contractors and academia over the coming years.

The Defense department is particularly interested in cybersecurity professionals who can engineer and integrate solutions to prevent data breaches, along with the need for so-called "active" defenses that scan incoming code to shield network perimeters said Robert Butler, the Pentagon’s top official for cyber policy at a recent conference with journalists. "And as we thread those together, what we want to do is a very, very tight partnership with industry," Butler told reporters.

The Defense department has been busy spending on cybersecurity, as President Obama made it a national priority. According to the federal spending website,, there are 14 information and IT management contracting entries for the Defense Department amounting to $11.2 billion spent in the 2010 fiscal year, as reported by NextGov. The Department of Homeland Security tripled the number of professionals working in the National Cybersecurity Division in fiscal 2009 and doubled it again last year. But that only brings the total of cybersecurity pros in the department to 220.

DHS has been recruiting from other government agencies and the private sector, but the department admits there are not enough trained professionals coming into the field to meet demand.

To meet the demand, IT contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Raytheon are increasing cybersecurity hires and setting up new offices in anticipation of federal demand. The cybersecurity market has been estimated to be worth an annual $80 billion to $140 billion worldwide, Reuters reported.

The Department of Defense aims to cut the lag between development of new cybersecurity technology and its deployment, Butler said. A new national strategy will be deployed by the Defense Department by the end of this year, he said.

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Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO,, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine,, and the San Jose Business Journal. Chandler is also engaged in helping companies further their content marketing needs through content strategy, optimization and creation, as well as blogging and social media platforms. When he's not writing, Chandler enjoys his beach haunt of Santa Cruz where he rides roller coasters with his son, surfs and bikes across mountain ranges.