General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could “think like the bad guy.” Applicants, it said, must understand hackers’ tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems.
In the Pentagon’s budget request submitted last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon will increase the number of cyberexperts it can train each year from 80 to 250 by 2011.
With warnings that the U.S. is ill-prepared for a cyberattack, the White House conducted a 60-day study of how the government can better manage and use technology to protect everything from the electrical grid and stock markets to tax data, airline flight systems, and nuclear launch codes.
Cyberthreats are also included as a key potential national security risk outlined in a classified report put together by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pentagon officials say they spent more than $100 million in the last six months responding to and repairing damage from cyberattacks and other computer network problems.
A task force of technology giants, including representatives from General Dynamics, IBM, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett-Packard Co. urged the administration to establish a White House-level official to lead cyberefforts and to develop ways to share information on problems more quickly with the private sector.