Department of Homeland Security on Lookout for IT Security Pros

The Obama administration gives the Department of Homeland Security approval to hire as many as 1,000 cyber-security experts during the next three years. According to DHS, officials are aiming to fill a number of different positions in areas such as vulnerability detection and network and systems engineering.

The Department of Homeland Security has gotten the OK to hire as many as 1,000 new IT pros during the next three years to bolster cyber-security.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano made the announcement Oct. 1 during remarks tied to the start of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The new hiring authority is the result of a collaborative effort between DHS, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Office of Management and Budget.

"Effective cyber-security requires all partners-individuals, communities, government entities and the private sector-to work together to protect our networks and strengthen our cyber-resiliency," Napolitano said. "This new hiring authority will enable DHS to recruit the best cyber-analysts, developers and engineers in the world to serve their country by leading the nation's defenses against cyber-threats."

The list of positions to be filled covers areas such as cyber-risk and strategic analysis, cyber-incident response, and vulnerability detection and assessment.

The need to hire more security pros has been noted by others, such as in a report from the Partnership for Public Service and consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton released in July. In that report, the authors outlined a number of problems involved in recruiting and hiring cyber-security pros, as well as strategies for resolving the problems.

President Obama declared May 29 that his administration was making cyber-security a national priority. As part of that effort, the president authorized a 60-day assessment of the government's cyber-security. In addition, he announced the creation of the position of national cyber-coordinator, but it has not yet been filled.

Napolitano emphasized the importance of partnerships between the public and private sectors in protecting the country's cyber-infrastructure. DHS officials said they do not anticipate needing to fill all 1,000 slots.

"This is impressive and clearly an indication that DHS has won confidence in the White House to lead the federal government's cyber-security response," said Roger Thornton, CTO of Fortify Software.