CYBER Warriors - February 2009 article from technolytics


Each and every day, each and every hour, cyber attacks are waged against a wide variety of targets on millions of computers and networks around the world. These battles rage twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week each and every day of the year. Back in the spring of 2007, U.S. Strategic Command Chief General James E. Cartwright told Congress that "America is under widespread attack in cyber space." In addition, officials in Europe have not hesitated to highlight the growing cyber warfare threat.

For many years, observers believed that the balance of cyber war power was tipped in United States’favor. However, there is strong evidence that this has or is changing. That being said, China, Russia,Iran and India are quickly closing the gap. Now some experts say we are no longer number one - we are number three. The United States has a sophisticated information-warfare program under the control ofthe Department of Defense (DoD) and growing cyber defenses under the watchful eye of theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS).

Most military services in the U.S. have focused on using cyber space for intelligence gathering andmonitoring. The most advanced at this is the National Security Agency (NSA). Recently the focus hasbeen expanded to more than intelligence and now includes offensive and defensive capabilities as well as for counter intelligence activities. As the cyber warfare threat environment evolves, new career
opportunities will be created. We have seen a very broad spectrum of positions in the cyber warfare domain.

The top three (most frequent openings) job areas are identified below.

Cyber Intelligence Analyst This position is responsible for reviewing and assessing all cyber intelligence gathered by various intelligence agencies and conducting analysis and production of intelligence reports. In addition, the position will identify intelligence gaps in reporting and provide constructive feedback to enhance intelligence gathering performance.

Cyber Operations Director This position is for developing strategies for cyber warfare operations, plans, goals, objectives, priorities, missions, and timelines to execute cyber warfare missions. This officer level position will assist in planning and directing actions for the full range of cyber weapons deployment against computers and network operations.

Cyber Weapons Specialist This technical position will provide technical direction within a team of software developers, software engineering and systems integration personnel that create innovativeoffensive cyber attack capabilities. In addition, the responsibilities will include identifying and developing cyber software that provide a strategic advantage in the area of cyber warfare/information

One source inside the DoD told us that cyber weapons and defense systems require our servicepersonnel to receive current and relevant training and maintain their level of competency as the threat environment changes. This will insure they are capable of fighting and winning within the domain. Education and training are the foundation for security in this highly technologically advanced military
environment. However, this is a huge challenge for the United States and many other countries. These
resources are in high demand in the corporate world (private sector) and the increased demand from the military and government (public sector) will make attracting and retaining these resources a challenge.

Critical Skills
When the military creates these new offensive and defensive weapons systems and the cyber intelligence collection capabilities necessary to address this growing threat, they will require employees with skills in these four critical areas.


The gray areas represent the current skill levels in the general technology workforce and the red areas ndicate the skill level required in the cyber warfare domain. This simplified example shows how large of a gap exists in the critical skill areas militaries need now. Strong demand for IT labor should continue all but unabated in this downturn economy. As technical talent becomes scarce, military officers must pull out all the stops to attract and keep cyber warriors. Cross-training will be critical to keep resourcesengaged and will help mitigate the risks of these resources being drawn by the private sector.

In the private sector, the jobs that IT hiring managers say will be most difficult to fill in 2008, due to a lack of workers with that particular skill are listed below.

1. Data management experts
2. Software developers
3. IT security workers
4. Project managers
5. Network managers
6. Help desk staffers
7. Storage administrators

SOURCE: Computerworld's first-half 2008 Vital Signs Survey

This clearly indicates both the military and the business community are looking for the same scarce resources. Since the talent pool for certain IT skills is expected to remains shallow, many believe the stringent requirement for obtaining a security clearance may need to be relaxed. This is a hotly debated solution to the problem and there is no indication that this will take place any time soon.
A military’s ability to be successful in the continually evolving and technically challenging cyber threat environment is highly educated resources at all levels and this is even more the case in the cyber warfare domain. Brian from Spy-Ops tells us that, “A new breed of military officer needs a broad based training program in the cyber area in addition to particular areas of expertise.” He went on to explain
that cyber training must broaden understanding of cyber weapons and strategies and contribute to other military operations that may be used in conjunction with traditional attacks. Multiple branches in the defense department have established professional cyber force operators andare developing multiple cyber career paths for officers, enlisted personnel and civilians. In addition, the
National Guard has reportedly joined this effort and has made the plan a focal point for future recruitment. When you include the intelligence communities (IC) demand for cyber intelligence gathering capabilities and analysts you begin to see how these scarce resources will be in high demand. Finally, the Obama administration stimulus package and the recent announcement of a 60 day information infrastructure security assessment will further drive resource demand. If that picture is not bleak enough, at the current rates of degree attainment the U.S. will produce approximately 48 million new undergraduate degrees by 2025 -- 16 million fewer degrees than the 64 million it would need to match leading nations. To make up the gap, the U.S. would need to produce an additional 781,000college graduates a year -- a 37 percent increase over current levels. However, this is another aspect to the shortfall in education. U.S. education in Mathematics and Science is falling behind other developed nations with a rating of only mediocre. While The World Economic Forum’s 2007-2008 Global competitiveness Report ranks the U.S. fifth best overall, the quality of math and science education in the U.S. ranks 45 out of 131 countries surveyed.