By Kevin Coleman Defense Tech Cyber War Analyst
Private contractors have proven vital in the current wars, providing services that range from security and fighting in battles to training and supply chain management. Recently there has been a lot of attention being given to the number of contractors used within both theaters of operations – Afghanistan and Iraq.
Well, if they think the ratio for conventional military operations is too high, wait till they see what it is in the cyber domain! While I can find no real numbers, actual experience suggests that the private sector is where the hard-core cyber talent is. After all, the private sector was responsible for creating the vast majority of hardware and software used by the military, intelligence and homeland security organizations.
A recent story on NPR stated that U.S. security officials say there is a severe shortage of people who have the sophisticated skill and knowledge needed to do battle in the cyber warfare domain. In addition, last week a CSIS report said there is a shortage of between 20,000 and 30,000 well trained cyber soldiers needed in the near term to address the offensive, defensive, intelligence and leadership needs in the cyber domain.
Training this number of individuals will take time and then there is the question of experience in the information security field. Nationally enrollment in computer science began to decline in 2000. This trend is not limited to computer science programs. It extends to all technology centric programs and tracks. This trend began a slight turn-around in 2007 and now enrollment has increased 14 percent since then. Even with this increase we fall far short of what we need.
Where are we going to get these people and how can we bridge the gap until we can train them and get them the experience they need to defend our nation in cyber space?