Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Although the current administration has always attempted to put a good face on their efforts to combat the nation’s ongoing cyber crisis, like trotting out First Lady Dr. Jill Biden this week to kick off the White House’s back-to-school cyber safety summit, the truth is, cybersecurity has been another key issue where America has lagged under the stewardship of President Joe Biden.
As of the end of 2022, well past the point where Democrat spin doctors could attempt to blame shift to former President Trump, there was a labor shortage of qualified cyber personnel to the tune of approximately 700,000.
The United States being understaffed regarding cybersecurity poses significant dangers and vulnerabilities in both the public and private sectors. In today’s interconnected and digital world, cyber threats are continuously evolving, and the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals has never been higher. A lack of sufficient cybersecurity personnel can have severe consequences for national security, economic stability, and the protection of sensitive information.
In the public sector, during a time where overall American security has seemed to take a major hit under the incompetent leadership of Alejandro Mayorkas at the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), government agencies and critical infrastructure face an array of sophisticated cyber threats from state-sponsored actors, hacktivists, and cybercriminals.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is a sub-agency under the DHS banner, has certainly spent enough taxpayer money over the past 2 and a half years to have made major strides in shoring up our defenses in the cybersphere, but the results just aren’t there about two-thirds of the way through Joe Biden’s current term.
Most recently, there was a July joint cybersecurity advisory from (CISA), the FBI, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), and the Canadian Centre
Additionally, China, a country that has long been at or near the top of the list of America’s top cyber adversaries, was just reported to be the origin of an attack that breached the email account of US Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, as a part of a larger targeted intelligence-gathering initiative.
Without an adequate cybersecurity workforce, government organizations will continue to struggle to detect and respond to cyberattacks effectively. This could lead to data breaches, disruption of essential services, and potential threats to national security. Additionally, the loss of sensitive government data can compromise diplomatic relations, intelligence operations, and military capabilities.
In the private sector, businesses across various industries are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals seeking to steal valuable intellectual property, customer data, and financial information. These kinds of breaches have been executed with increasing frequency by countries like China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
An understaffed cybersecurity team in private companies can lead to slower incident response times, leaving them exposed to prolonged cyberattacks. The resulting data breaches can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities, affecting not only the targeted organizations but also their customers and stakeholders.
Moreover, the interconnectedness of public and private sectors makes them interdependent. Cyberattacks on private companies can have ripple effects on the nation’s critical infrastructure and public services, such as energy, transportation, and healthcare. This underscores the importance of a strong cybersecurity workforce in both the government and private sectors, collaborating to defend against cyber threats effectively.
To address these challenges, the United States needs to invest in robust cybersecurity education, training, and recruitment initiatives. One program that may bear fruit if properly executed is Florida International University’s cybersecurity workforce training program. The program provides free cyber training to the nation’s veterans and first responders.
We also need to begin encouraging students to pursue careers in cybersecurity from a younger age and launch a consistent plan of doing so year-round, and not just trotting out the First Lady for a short speech and dedicating just one week out of the year for awareness.
This, in addition to offering competitive salaries and benefits, will attract talent to fill critical cybersecurity roles.
This extended understaffing epidemic in the cybersecurity sector poses grave risks for the United States, leaving the nation vulnerable to cyber threats on multiple fronts. At this point, a much bigger commitment must be made toward building a skilled and well-equipped cybersecurity workforce.
Should we do so, it will hopefully strengthen our cyber defenses, protect sensitive data, safeguard national interests, and establish a resilient and secure digital landscape. Whether or not the Biden administration will be up to that task remains to be seen.
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