Cybersecurity month sparks renewed calls for collaboration

A general theme echoed by government officials speaking about the importance of October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month seems to be calls for partnership to secure U.S. interests in cyberspace, particularly critical infrastructure, reports FCW, a sister publication of Defense Systems.

In two appearances the first week of October, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency Director GEN Keith Alexander called on agencies to collaborate with each other and the private sector to better share information for the sake of national security, the story said.

“Our country … built this Internet and all the stuff that goes with it, and it is absolutely superb,” Alexander said in his second appearance of the week, at an Oct. 4 cybersecurity event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. “We’re the nation that developed the Internet; we ought to be the first to secure it.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who spoke Sept. 28 at a GovExec event in Washington, said White House officials are close to finishing an executive order on cybersecurity, a measure being taken in the wake of cybersecurity legislation failing in Congress last month. Republicans have been vocal in their opposition to the executive measure, pressing the Obama administration to allow the House and Senate work through the legislative processes, the story said.

Napolitano also highlighted the need for a more cyber-savvy workforce, noting that DHS is working on training and hiring staff with cyber expertise, the story said. Her remarks were reinforced by a report from the DHS Task Force on CyberSkills, which outlined recommendations for beefing up the cyber ranks in government, including a call to hire 600 “federal employees with mission-critical skills.”

The report contains eleven recommendations grouped under five separate objectives, including the hiring of cyber-skilled staff with “high proficiency” in mission-critical areas; developing and maintaining advanced skills in DHS employees; expanding the pipeline of talent through “innovative partnerships;” and establishing a “cyber reserve” of technically proficient cybersecurity staff that can be tapped when needed, the story said.

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