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Federal Diary: Government Lags on Cybersecurity, Report Finds

Employees of AhnLab work in Seoul. South Korea's spy agency says that recent cyberattacks were carried out by using 86 IP addresses in 16 countries.
Employees of AhnLab work in Seoul. South Korea's spy agency says that recent cyberattacks were carried out by using 86 IP addresses in 16 countries. (By Lee Jin-man -- Associated Press)

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By Joe Davidson
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sometimes Uncle Sam acts even older than he looks.

When it comes to the quickly advancing world of cybersecurity, for example, Sam can be as modern as a floppy disk.

That was considered the high-tech way of storing data in 1988, the last time one of the government's computer science job descriptions was updated, according to a new report. The description makes no mention of the World Wide Web, because, of course, that term had not yet been coined.

It's time for Sam to get with the new world, and the report, released Wednesday by a nonprofit organization and a consultant, is pushing him to do just that. "Cyber In-Security" says the federal government is falling behind in the race to keep its computer operations safe because the workforce has too few well-trained cybersecurity experts.

"Critical government and private sector computer networks are under constant attack from foreign nations, criminal groups, hackers, virus writers and terrorist organizations," says the study, published by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton.

It says "the overriding finding of our analysis is that our federal government will be unable to combat these threats without a more coordinated, sustained effort to increase cybersecurity expertise in the federal workforce."

A few weeks ago, President Obama declared cybersecurity to be "one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation" and said that "we're not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country."

His words basically sum up the report, which calls on his administration to quickly and significantly improve the quality and quantity of federal cybersecurity employees.

"Cyber In-Security" outlines four primary challenges it says threaten the workforce:

-- There are not enough qualified applicants for federal cybersecurity jobs.


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