News in Brief

Cyber staffing and NOAA mapping

RAND says cyber-staff shortage a national security risk

The shortage of cybersecurity experts in the federal government is serious to the point of being a national security threat to the United States, according to a RAND Corporation study.

Demand for cybersecurity experts began to exceed supply in 2007 amidst increased reports of large-scale hacking, credit-card breaches and cyber raids on intellectual property, the report found.

The cybersecurity staff shortage is mostly for high-end jobs with salaries between $200,000 and $250,000, according to the report's lead author, Martin Libicki.

"As cyberattacks have increased and there is increased awareness of vulnerabilities, there is more demand for the professionals who can stop such attacks," said Libicki, senior management scientist at RAND. "But educating, recruiting, training and hiring these cybersecurity professionals takes time."

The report recommends federal agencies waive civil service rules that prevent them from hiring cyber experts, and advised using R&D to improve scouting of cybersecurity talent, among other recommendations.

NOAA innovation creates room for data entrepreneurs

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking a step away from a 200-year old tradition of compiling the nation's nautical charts on paper, and is instead focusing on digital.

NOAA began pioneering digital charts in the 1990s, but now the agency is looking to shift production to almost exclusively digital products, and support paper charts at a minimal level.

"Using digital technology, cartographers can now use more data at a higher spatial resolution and richer attribution than was possible on paper nautical charts, giving the maritime industry greater navigational intelligence to manage risks," NOAA said in a release.

Last year, Coast Survey launched and beta tested an app for Android users, MyNOAACharts, which allowed users to download NOAA charts onto their mobile devices. Input from the public found that Coast Survey's distribution formats were not conducive to mobile apps, and also that this type of app development might be better suited for the commercial market.

So this summer Coast Survey will adjust the formats of its charts into easy-to-use tiles, and open up even more data for entrepreneurs and app developers to use. NOAA hopes this effort will "empower the next generation of app developers, chart redistributors and software entrepreneurs to create new navigation products, and speed updated chart information to U.S. boaters."

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