Biden’s 4 Pillars To Enhance Cybersecurity

by | Sep 21, 2023 | Digital Health

The National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy (NCWES), announced by the Biden-Harris administration, proposes an ambitious goal of empowering every American with fundamental cyber skills. This broad and comprehensive initiative targets a wide range of citizens, regardless of their background or technical proficiency. Its intent is to make foundational cyber skill learning opportunities accessible across the nation. This is a strategic move to bolster the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure and to prepare the population for an increasingly digital world. By focusing on foundational cyber skills, the strategy will better equip individuals to safeguard themselves from cybersecurity threats and increase their digital literacy. Additionally, the administration aims to foster a culture that celebrates the pursuit of cyber skills and careers, acting as a catalyst for employment opportunities in this fast-growing sector. By fostering global collaborations to boost progress in foundational cyber skills, the administration seeks to position the US at the forefront of cybersecurity worldwide.

Pillar 2

The second pillar of the NCWES involves a complete transformation of cyber education. The administration recognizes the pressing need for a skilled cyber workforce, as well as the future demands of a rapidly evolving technological landscape. To tackle these challenges, the strategy proposes building and leveraging wide-reaching ecosystems to elevate cyber education at all educational stages. This approach targets a broad spectrum of education levels, from K-12 to higher education, community colleges, and technical schools. The emphasis on competency-based education signifies a shift towards practical, skills-based learning, ensuring students are job-ready and adept in dealing with real-world cybersecurity challenges. A significant part of the strategy involves investing in educators and enhancing cyber education systems, acknowledging the crucial role teachers and educational infrastructures play in molding the workforce of the future. By prioritizing affordability and accessibility, the administration aims to eliminate barriers to entry, offering opportunities for all Americans to acquire vital cyber skills.

Pillar 3

The third pillar of the NCWES focuses on enlarging and refining the national cyber workforce. It addresses the crucial role of cybersecurity skills in today’s workforce and the need to future-proof the labor market for the anticipated surge in demand for these skills. The strategy proposes the growth of the cyber workforce by fostering and augmenting cyber ecosystems. Emphasizing a skills-based approach to recruitment and professional development, it envisions a shift away from traditional hiring methods towards more inclusive and practical recruitment strategies. Leveraging the diversity of America to strengthen the cyber workforce underlines the importance of representation and varied perspectives in tackling complex cyber issues. The administration also recognizes the need for robust international engagements, acknowledging that cybersecurity is a global issue that requires international cooperation and alliances.

Pillar 4

The fourth and final pillar of the NCWES seeks to consolidate and fortify the federal cyber workforce. Recognizing that the federal government plays a crucial role in shaping the nation’s cybersecurity landscape, the strategy proposes several initiatives to strengthen the public sector’s cyber workforce. This involves improving inter-agency collaboration, attracting and hiring a skilled and diverse federal cyber workforce, enhancing career pathways within the federal cyber workforce, and investing in personnel and human resources capabilities. The administration aims to reduce the barriers associated with hiring and onboarding, making public service a more attractive career choice for cybersecurity professionals. This strategy signifies the federal government’s commitment to leading the charge in creating a robust, diverse, and skilled cyber workforce, ultimately working to secure the nation’s digital infrastructure and safeguard national security.

Also included in the release from the White House, was the following information regarding the status of various initiatives:

The National Science Foundation plans to channel over $24M into the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS) awards during the next four years. This substantial investment targets the unique challenges surrounding the recruitment and retention of cybersecurity professionals, focusing on those who will serve federal, local, state, or tribal governments. Beneficiaries of these awards will include notable institutions such as the University of Alabama at Birmingham, California State University, Sacramento, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Tuskegee University, State University of New York at Buffalo, Mississippi State University, and Idaho State University.

National Security Agency (NSA)

In its commitment to strengthening cybersecurity in academia, the National Security Agency (NSA) will provide four grants via its National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program. These grants will fund a pilot initiative to establish four new Cyber Clinics at accredited colleges and universities in Nevada, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Virginia. The Cyber Clinics are aimed at supporting communities and small governments that lack access to cyber risk assessment and planning assistance. They will also offer over 200 students the opportunity to hone their skills in a supervised learning environment. Furthermore, the NSA plans to increase the number of NCAE-C designated institutions to 460 by the end of 2024, potentially serving approximately 174,000 students annually. It also sponsors GenCyber summer camps each year, with a goal of conducting at least 100 camps across the country, benefiting 2,800 students and 600 teachers.

Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD)

The ONCD is steadfastly committed to fostering diversity among internship applicants. They are increasing recruitment and outreach efforts aimed at underrepresented communities, such as women, people of color, and people with disabilities. With an ambitious plan of identifying unique outreach channels focused on reaching these underrepresented communities, the ONCD aims to have dedicated recruitment materials ready by the Summer 2024 intern application season.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

In its pursuit of promoting cybersecurity education and workforce development, NIST plans to award up to $3.6 million for Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate (RAMPS) cybersecurity projects. The funding opportunity for RAMPS is open to organizations that foster collaborations between employers and educators, developing a skilled workforce to meet industry needs within a local or regional economy. Up to 18 RAMPS awards may be funded by NIST. In collaboration with Katzcy, a digital marketing firm, NIST also supports the US Cyber Games. This initiative aims to recruit, train, and develop the team representing the United States in international cybersecurity competitions. This program engages with over 2,000 individuals in the yearly U.S. Cyber Open and annually trains over 150 students through the months-long U.S. Cyber Combine and Pipeline programs.

Department of Labor (DOL)

In a bold initiative, the Department of Labor has announced a $65 million award in formula and competitive grants to 45 states and territories. This funding aims to develop and scale registered apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity and other critical sectors. Seven states and territories identified cybersecurity as one of their targeted sectors. Additionally, DOL has awarded a competitive grant to Utah, aiding in the expansion of Registered Apprenticeship Programs for cybersecurity and other sectors. A new Registered Apprenticeship industry intermediary, Safal Partners LLC, is set to specifically focus on launching, promoting, and expanding Registered Apprenticeship programs in cybersecurity.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

OPM is dedicated to strengthening the cybersecurity workforce in the federal sector. It plans to partner with federal agencies, the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) Council Recruitment and Outreach Working Group, and external, good-government groups to host a second Tech to Gov Job Fair by Q2 of FY2024. Moreover, OPM is conducting an occupational study to establish or update one or more occupational series covering Federal government positions in the fields of software development, software engineering, data science, and data management. This study aims to identify the nature and scope of digital careers work and the skills needed to perform this work governmentwide. The results of the study will affect how Federal agencies attract, hire, and retain Digital Career professionals governmentwide. Furthermore, OPM’s Tech to Gov Working Group is partnering with the US Digital Service to support tech hiring across government and cultivate a pipeline of skilled tech talent recruitment representatives, regardless of their job series.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

The VA has announced the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program for Veterans. This two-year developmental program provides a unique, hands-on learning and development experience for cybersecurity apprentices within the VA Cybersecurity Operations Center (CSOC). The program seeks to inspire careers in the federal cybersecurity workforce. Apprentices will gain cyber knowledge and experience through mentoring, on-the-job training, and leading-edge training courses. The program will begin recruiting and onboarding its first cybersecurity apprenticeship cohort in Q1 FY2024. The initial cohort will consist of approximately five transitioning veterans coming from tech-specific Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), with the hope of increasing capacity to 10 in the future. To bridge

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