Age 5 is not soon enough to warn Americans about the threat of cyberwarfare. So, Janet Napolitano is taking the message into America’s kindergartens. She writes:
Yesterday, I attended the Women in International Security conference, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss one of the most urgent and important issues facing our nation—cybersecurity. In particular, I spoke about how DHS is building a cyber-workforce comprised of highly qualified, skilled, and innovative employees who reflect the diversity of our nation, and will enable us to meet our mission today, and in the future.
At DHS, we’re working to develop the next generation of leaders in cybersecurity while fostering an environment for talented staff to grow in this field. We are building strong cybersecurity career paths within the Department, and in partnership with other government agencies. We are also creating training and development opportunities to retain our most talented employees and ensure their professional development. In collaboration with the National Security Agency, we are strengthening the nation’s educational infrastructure by supporting Centers of Academic Excellence across the country.
In addition, we are extending the scope of cyber education beyond the federal workplace through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, involving students from kindergarten through post-graduate school. And we sponsor the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that works with academia and the private sector to identify and develop the best and brightest cyber talent to meet our nation’s growing and changing security needs.
Kindergarteners need to know the threats that face them. Digits are weapons. Kids are the targets. Tell them young.
When it comes to homeland security, age 4 is when Americans should start being afraid of terrorism.
This is all part of a program to recruit geeks.
We also just launched a new recruitment initiative for exceptional recent college graduates called “The Secretary’s Honors Program.”. Its goal is to recruit, retain, and develop exceptionally talented entry-level people to support the Department’s missions, including cyber. We also have begun implementing recommendations proposed by the Department’s Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on CyberSkills, in conjunction with public-private partners, to develop a more agile cyber workforce across the federal government. Their recommendations are aimed at improving the Department’s ability to build a world-class cybersecurity team and allow us to tap into pools of talented Americans like our Veterans, whose operational experience makes them well-suited to cybersecurity work.
Homeland security is a young and growing profession where talented people can truly make an impact in many different ways. To succeed as a Department, and as a nation, we must draw on the skills and talents of the broadest range of Americans – men and women who want to serve the public good and contribute to our mission.
Kindergarten? Yes, sir. Geeks are born geeks. Get them while they’re young.