Cybersecurity game plan needs stronger educational strategy

Senior DHS official calls for security scholarships for computer science students

Strengthening education in science, technology, engineering and math is crucial to U.S. cybersecurity efforts, a senior Homeland Security Department official said today.

Richard Marshall, director of global cybersecurity management in the Homeland Security Department’s National Cybersecurity Division, said improving supply chain management and software assurance are keys to bolstering cybersecurity but, without boosting education, computer security programs would fail.

“No matter how successful we are in those two elements, we are going to fail if we don’t invest more money, time and attention and rewards to educate the workforce today, tomorrow’s workforce and the next generation’s workforce,” Marshall said today at the FOSE 2010 trade show in Washington. FOSE, is presented by 1105 Media Inc., the parent company of Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News and Washington Technology.

Marshall added that the United States had made progress in attracting students to postgraduate computer science programs, but said more work needs to be done.

“It’s like the great football and basketball teams: they’re all on scholarship;  they’re not playing for fun, they’re playing for money,” he added. “We need to do the same thing with out computer-science students.”

Marshall also said schools should incorporate a computer security curriculum into law, business, social ,and political science studies because everyone is using the Internet.


About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 Bob Donelson Washington DC

Beyond external educational priorities, DHS needs to spend a little money internally as well as sponsor Best Practice Education across the Federal Agencies. Where the money is currently spent and accountability for outcome appears to be the issue versus additional money! The reason I suggest education is an issue is the status of HSPD-12 within DHS. They are lagging behind even small federal agencies. A recent Federal Poll suggests that passwords being lost is a problem. All Federal Agencies are required to implement Identity and Credential Access Management(ICAM) Solutions enabled by their PIV Smart Cards, eliminating passwords. These solutions reduce the overall cost of access management improving cybersecurity. USDA and DOD are great examples of agencies complying. Services to implement an ICAM Solution are fairly economical. Most agencies still have the mentality of needing to develop solutions or to write a SOW directing the details of a solution that they do no understand. It is similar to buying electricity from a utility company. Agencies understand that Power Companies deliver electricity without anyone in the agency knowing how to build a power plant. The Business of Agencies partnering with Security personnel can achieve an improved security posture if they work together versus continuing to fund the silos!

Wed, Mar 24, 2010 Just a Grunt in this man's army

What is needed more than anything is critical thinking. An example from today's email: The power will be off in X building on Saturday. Manager several layers above responds "Does this mean I can't use remote access?" Why does the logic "no power in the bldg therefore your office computer will have no power therefore you will not be able to remotely access your office computer" not happen for this person? This is not the only idiocy of the day but even my great-grandma (with a 2nd grade education) knew if the power was off the light wouldn't come on!

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