State and Local Governments Hustle to Fill the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

Major retailers are not the only targets for cybercrime, despite what the recent headlines may suggest. State and county governments are equally at risk of attack, and it’s a risk that many take seriously.

“We house information for payroll purposes for people’s health insurance. We are dealing with confidential legal information, confidential criminal information. We have an obligation to do everything in our power to protect all the data that the state has in its possession,” said Ann Visalli, director of Delaware’s Office of Management and Budget.

For Visalli and her colleagues across government, that readiness to get in the game is sometimes thwarted by a lack of skilled players to help carry the ball. Workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies reports the demand for cybersecurity workers is more than double the overall IT job market. An estimated 300,000 cybersecurity jobs are vacant in the United States, according to Symantec, and demand will likely rise as the private sector faces unprecedented numbers of data breaches and cybersecurity threats.

Government is hobbled here. With demand high and supply short, cybersecurity experts are commanding top dollar, typically $120,000 and up in the private sector. Government struggles to keep up. State officials in Michigan report that their cybersalaries run about 20 percent below market rate.

“We really need to appeal to folks’ sense of the nobility of public service,” said Michigan CTO Rod Davenport.

But that’ll only get you so far. As a result, states and localities are seeking more aggressive methods to woo top cybersecurity talent. Some are pursuing a two-pronged approach, implementing creative recruiting on the one hand, while simultaneously working with industry and academia on the other to build up the general pool of local cyberprofessionals, thus broadening the potential workforce all around.

Before diving into state and local efforts, it helps to step back for a moment to look at the federal government’s cyberagenda. Programs at the federal level often help to set the tone for efforts across the states.

In 2013 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies to spur development of a robust cybersecurity workforce. The organization aims to boost awareness, grow the pipeline and encourage advances in the field. For states, this effort comes with such benefits as an online cybersecurity workforce planner.

Working against this backdrop, which defines cybersecurity as a national priority, states have been eager to ensure that their cyber-resources are firmly in — For more information read the original article here.    

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