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US looks to recruit 'patriotic' cyber security experts

US Department of Homeland Security looks to hire patriotic cyber security experts to call upon in the event of a crippling cyber attack.

US Department of Homeland Security is looking to hire patriotic cyber security experts to call upon in the event of a crippling cyber attack, Reuters has reported.

A task force agency has been set up to recruit and retain skilled cyber professionals, with the government fearing they may be missing out on some of the most talented individuals to the private sector. It is hoped that a working model for a Cyber Reserve will be set up within a year, with the first members drawn from retired government employees now working for private companies.

DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute told Reuters: "The status quo is not acceptable. We are not standing around. There is a lot to do in cyber security."

With the threat of nuclear war dominating the headlines it is easy to forget the growing threat of cyber criminality to government organisations. However, the risks are ever present. A cyber 'time bomb' was recently detonated at a Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company in August causing unprecedented damage when it pulled 30,000 PCs out of service. It is thought a similar attack to the government could cause significant damage.

Defence secretary Leon Panetta said the US faces a potential "cyber Pearl Harbour" and that foreign groups have gained access to computer systems that control critical US infrastructure, such as chemical, electricity and water plants, Reuters reported.

The DHS has been struggling to hire top cyber talent and the agency is reaching out to private contractor firms to cover the gaps. Alan Paller, co-chair of the DHS task force, said the private sector has much more appeal to the skilled workers than the government, and a recent task force has advised the DHS to give more exciting cyber work to government workers to help with retention.ADNFCR-1220-ID-801481423-ADNFCR