The Pentagon is seeking 6,000 cyber warriors to help defend the United States and its allies from cyber threats. News of the Pentagon’s plans to beef up U.S. cyber defenses comes in the wake of a string of cyber attacks, with notable targets being the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Office for Personnel Management (OPM), the White House, and even critical power infrastructures.
One of the most notable cyber warrior programs that is currently being used by the federal government is CyberCorps. Founded in 200, this scholarship-based program covers all tuition, educational material, professional development, and even provides students with $20,000 to $30,000 in cash per year (students seeking a master’s degree receive more). After completing the school, students receive government jobs for the same duration as they received funding, which is usually between two and three years. CyberCorps has experienced a 300% increase its budget over the past three years, as it now spends an estimated $45 million annually. The company’s program director recently announced that it had produced some 1,554 graduates and counting.
Surprisingly, though, CyberCorps is still in dire need of new students. “You would think, with all those benefits and a hot area, cybersecurity, that people would just be pouring into the program,” said Victor Piotrowski, lead program director for CyberCorps at the National Science Foundation. “We have a very, very tiny pipeline.”
So, why aren’t there more people signing up for CyberCorps and similar government-sponsored cybersecurity training programs? One of the reasons is because many of these schools only accept U.S. citizens as part of their deal with the federal government. This eliminates roughly 70% of students who are seeking a master’s degree in computer engineering.
And there’s also the issue of salary. Because the federal government can’t pay as much as privacy companies, students seeking a job in the cybersecurity field often choose to work for private companies.
Regardless, the Pentagon is pushing heavily for more cyber warriors. A recent report published by the FreeBeacon found that hack attacks on U.S. power grids and critical infrastructures are become increasingly more common. Hackers who are possibly affiliated with terrorist organizations or rogue nations have been able to successfully install malicious software in power grids, at which point they can control the systems remotely. These viruses are also capable of scanning entire systems for sensitive data, transmitting that data to an external server. The Pentagon is hoping that its new cybersecurity programs will prevent future attacks such as this.