Experts: Cybersecurity needs education, standards, partnerships

Partnerships, education and standards are important to strengthening the information technology workforce's ability to protect the nation's infrastructure, experts and lawmakers said today at a hearing of the House Science Committee.

Annual economic losses are estimated to be $13 billion to worms and viruses and $226 billion to all forms of overt attacks, according to documents prepared for the committee's hearing on cybersecurity.

"The advancement and availability of education, training and internship programs is paramount if we are to strengthen our nation's cybersecurity workforce," said Chet Hosmer, president and chief executive officer of WetStone Technologies Inc.

Enacted in 2002, the Cyber Security Research and Development Act designates the National Science Foundation as the lead agency for civilian cybersecurity research and education and authorizes $216 million between fiscal years 2003 and 2007 for NSF cybersecurity, education and training programs.

"Job creation in the 21st century can only happen with a 21st-century system of education," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), committee chairman.

The foundation sponsors programs at every level of education to encourage students to use their cybersecurity training to work for the government. The organization's Scholarship Track provides grants to students in exchange for two years of work in the Federal Cyber Service, and its Capacity-Building Track provides grants to colleges and universities to offer courses in cybersecurity.

The programs appear to be successful, but they still need a codified set of standards, lawmakers said. The "federal government should exercise more leadership in convening and coordinating efforts between educators and industry to develop standards for certification and accreditation of cybersecurity courses and educational programs," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), the committee's ranking minority member.

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