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[ISN] NSA: Looking for a few good cybersecurity professionals


By Dirk A. D. Smith
Network World
November 13, 2012

At a time when cyberattacks on America's critical infrastructure have increased 17-fold (between 2009 and 2011), the need for highly trained cybersecurity professionals is acute. However, 83% of federal hiring managers in a recent survey said it was extremely difficult to find well-trained cybersecurity professionals and a projected shortfall of 20,000 to more than 40,000 people is expected in the years to come.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is doing something about this cyberskills gap by partnering with the nation's service academies, colleges and universities to foster the growth of the world's most advanced cybersecurity professionals.

Recently, Network World was invited to visit the Puzzle Palace and interview two interns, one of whom said his time there has caused him to completely lock down his Facebook page, cell phone and computer because "in the world of cyber security a single person can do something really bad."

While the NSA is known for its supersecrecy, it has a long history of working with educational institutions. Programs are divided into Cooperative Education, Internship and Scholarships. The Cooperative Education Program is a rotational program with students alternating semesters of full-time work with full-time study. During the work tour students put in a standard 40-hour week with each tour designed to reveal specific areas of interest and skills that they can then focus on for a career. The internships, at the high school, college and graduate levels, run the gamut from cryptanalysis, cybersecurity, and information assurance to human resources, occupational health, history and languages. Scholarships are available at high school, college and graduate levels. Students who graduate with NSA on their transcripts are much in demand - correspondingly, when later at work in military, intelligence, or industry - much is expected of them.


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