The Cyber Militia Defends America

The U.S. government has quietly gone ahead and formed several special security organizations for policing the internet.

Because there is such a (trained, not to mention talented) manpower shortage right now (and in the foreseeable future), this was done on the cheap. An effective force could not be recruited, even if everyone agreed to accept government pay levels, because of the huge expense.

One solution that was suggested even before September 11, 2001, and eventually caught on, was to organize and reward the pro bono cybersecurity efforts that have been going on for some time. A lot of talented whitehats just get pissed off and go after bad guys on their own nickel.

An example is HoneyNet (the pro bono network of honeypots set up to attract, analyze and document backhat activities and techniques). One suggestion that did not fly was setting up a “CyberCorps” as a separate corporation, with a few really good people to run it, and enough budget to pay market rate for the right people, and still have a close working relationship with government agencies and commercial firms that spend a lot on net security (banks and brokerages, for example.)

Instead, a “Cyber Corps” program was set up to give tuition assistance to college students studying computer security, in order to increase the number of qualified experts in this area. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security established working relationships with existing computer security groups, while the Department of Defense encouraged the services to set up computer security operations. The air force established the Cyber Command, a major operation that, it is hoped, will give the air force the lead (and most of the budget) for defense related Internet security operations.

The U.S. Army sought to make something of the original CyberCorps concept, by recruiting existing army reservists with computer security experience, and organizing them into the Reserve Information Operations Command. So far, nearly 400 reservists have been assigned to man five Information Operations Centers. These reservists have civilian jobs in computer and Internet security, and most make more than the government could afford to pay them. But in the event of an Internet “battle”, the Reserve Information Operations Command would quickly provide the army with a collection of expert operators to analyze, and deal with, the threat. The army is still recruiting for this duty, and will probably continue to, in order to expand this force as much as possible.

June 8, 2008

Source: Strategy Page

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