One of the largest challenges the United States government faces when it comes to cybersecurity is hiring enough qualified professionals to effectively defend the nation from cyber threats.
It was reported earlier this year that there were more than 1,500 vacant cybersecurity jobs in the federal government. The most likely reason for this being the pay discrepancy between the public and private sectors. Why work for the government when you could make more doing the same job for a private company?
In an effort to get more cybersecurity professionals into government roles, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its Cybersecurity Talent Management System (CTMS), which will allow DHS to recruit top cybersecurity talent—and pay them much more.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas commented on the new program:
"The DHS Cybersecurity Talent Management System fundamentally re-imagines how the Department hires, develops, and retains top-tier and diverse cybersecurity talent. As our Nation continues to face an evolving threat landscape, we cannot rely only on traditional hiring tools to fill mission-critical vacancies. This new system will enable our Department to better compete for cybersecurity professionals and remain agile enough to meet the demands of our critical cybersecurity mission."
U.S. Cybersecurity Talent Management System: higher pay
The creation of the CTMS comes at a time when the U.S. desperately needs to improve its cybersecurity posture. Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure have been a major focus after the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods incidents.
The White House reported that in 2020, there were 30,819 information security incidents at the federal government level. And the FBI reported that ransomware payments totaled over $400 million.
Upon announcing the CTMS, DHS posted 150 "priority" jobs that will fall under the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer.
The program will allow the government to compete with private companies in the hiring process, something that has been a challenge for years. Cybersecurity professionals hired under the program may earn a salary up to $255,800, which is equal to that of the Vice President of the U.S. Under special circumstances, employees can earn up to $332,100.
CTMS to bring greater diversity
Another challenge DHS hopes the program can address is the lack of diversity in cyber within the federal government. The Office of Personnel Management says that approximately 3% of the federal government's IT workforce is under the age of 30, noting there are 16 times more federal IT workers over the age of 50 than there are under the age of 30.
Also, only 25% of the government's cyber workforce is women, which is something CISA Director Jen Easterly hopes to see change soon. She spoke with CBS News earlier this month:
"This is one of the reasons that I'm spending so much time as our chief recruiter and chief culture officer. I want to have the type of culture that will be able to reflect what it means to be inclusive, what it means to be innovative—with collaboration, trust, transparency, ownership and empowerment. And really, if young girls and women see me, then they can see themselves in the cyber space."
She also took to Twitter to encourage her followers that now is the time to join the government's cyber workforce:
Read the statement from DHS for more information on the new Cybersecurity Talent Management System.
[Don't miss SecureWorld's final two virtual conferences of 2021, SecureWorld Rockies and West Coast, where you can find amazing content and insights into cybersecurity, earn CPE credits, and connect with others in the industry.