The Department of Homeland Security is once again reaching out the the public and industry as they face a shortfall of cybersecurity talent. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano met with industry and small business representatives at the White House last week to discuss the Department’s current efforts to secure cyberspace and develop the cyber workforce.

“Today we face an increasing demand for the best and brightest in the cybersecurity field across industry, academia and government, said Secretary Napolitano.“DHS is committed to working with our partners at universities and throughout the private sector to develop the next generation of cyber professionals to protect against evolving cyber threats.”

During the event, Secretary Napolitano announced that the Homeland Security Advisory Council will launch an effort focused on cyber workforce development. The new task force, co-chaired by Jeff Moss and Alan Paller, will consider strategies that may include expanding DHS involvement in cyber competitions and university programs, enhancing public-private partnerships, and working with interagency partners to develop an agile cyber workforce across the federal government

In addition to protecting civilian government networks (the .gov domain), DHS also works with owners and operators of critical infrastructure to help them secure their own networks by conducting risk assessments and developing plans to mitigate risks. Last year, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, part of DHS’ 24-hour watch and warning center, responded to more than 106,000 incident reports, and released more than 5,000 actionable cybersecurity alerts and information products to public and private sector partners.

DHS joins concerns from the civilian workforce about the availability of cyber skilled workforce. In addition to the problem of attracting in-demand cyber talent to government work, DHS has also had budget concerns, hiring freezes and a slow hiring timeline to contend with. DHS, like many agencies, is increasing its focus on workforce development and early recruiting, with a campus lecture series to encourage college students to consider a career with the government.

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