DHS to computer engineers: We want you


April 16, 2012 7:02:56 PM PDT
An ongoing effort by the government is partly a call to action and partly an appeal to patriotism. The effort to tighten cybersecurity was outlined Monday at San Jose State by the secretary of homeland security.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was on campus to recruit computer engineers to fight cybercrime. "We need young people who really understand this technology, who are creative and innovative and are thinking ahead, and we need you to say, 'You know what? I can contribute my talents in a unique and fundamental way,'" she said.

The federal government is beefing up its partnership with the private sector as hackers and cybercriminals keep stealing credit card numbers and sensitive records. Adam Palmer is the lead cyber-security adviser for Norton. "There are 1 million cybercrime victims every single day, globally. Last year, there were twice as many cybercrime victims as there were newborn babies," he said.

Computer science majors said the cabinet secretary's message got them thinking about a government job. "The big draw, I think, is that it would be at the cutting edge. I mean, when it comes to things like security and technology, the government does tend to be at the forefront," said San Jose State junior Daniel Khawaja.

Public and private sector cooperation is growing as the magnitude of threats is increasing. Juniper Networks is a Sunnyvale-based network infrastructure company with government and corporate customers. "We need a bigger army. It's clear if you look at the way attacks are coming in. You need a broader set of people that are focused on thwarting cybersecurity attacks. Second of all, you need smarter, more specialized people," Security Strategy VP Karim Toubba said.

With that in mind, San Jose State is developing a new degree program in cybersecurity that will channel more engineers into research and development, along with protection from attacks. "I expect that within about 20 months, that we will be putting out anywhere from 75 to 100 students in this field," Peter Young said, adding that he does not think that will keep with demand.

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