Outdated policies stop hackers from aiding the US government

US government agencies and departments are bemoaning the lack of cybersecurity experts willing to work for the government, and that’s been going on for a quite a while now.

It is not only the general lack of knowledgeable people in the branch that worries them, but also the fact that when push comes to shove, these experts are much more willing to take jobs with private companies because they simply don’t want to deal with the red tape associated with activities on behalf of the government.

The matter was discussed by the current Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and her two predecessors, Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge at an event held at the Georgetown University marking the 8th anniversary of the founding of the Homeland Security Department.

As announced by Napolitano on many occasions – most notably in a keynote she held at the RSA Conference 2010 – the Department’s has great need of cybersecurity experts and will not balk at poaching the adequate personnel from the private sector’s talent pool.

According to her, the DHS is looking to employ some 1,000 cybersecurity specialists. Department officials have been holding competitions, giving out scholarships, speaking at universities and attending hacker conferences – all in the hopes of attracting young talented people before they opt for a career in the private sector.

But, as Nextgov reports, one of the main problems when it comes to attracting private cybersecurity experts to collaborate with – and not work directly for – the government are the directives that regulate this kind of co-operation.

“With the regulations associated with bringing in private citizens — to sit side by side by with the government in order to advance a broader interest of security and safety — it is very, very difficult,” said Ridge. “The [regulations] are written to the extent where, we’re not really going to trust people in the private sector because, heaven forbid, they might be financially advantaged either with a contract or just general information.” Calling for a reform of these outdated policies, Ridge echoed President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Napolitano also added that to some people who are really good at cybersecurity the idea of working for the government hasn’t even crossed their minds in the first place. She seems to think that having known hackers in the Department’s advisory committee and officials visiting hacker conventions might make them consider the option.