Opinion: Cyber Needs to be a Priority not just a Talking Point

A recent article by Kevin Collier, which appeared in BuzzFeed highlights what seems to be a recurring trend.  US officials talk about how important and critical cyber is, and yet top cyber positions remain unfilled and the cyber ranks continue to be understaffed.  The article indicates that four key cyber roles: Chief Information Security Officer for the EPA, the CIO for the Department of Homeland Security, the CIO for the Department of the Navy, and the Director of Information Security and Privacy at the Office of Personnel Management are now unfilled.

We continue to hear rhetoric underscoring the importance of our cybersecurity posture, meanwhile, we hear almost daily about new cyberattacks: breaches, ransomware, and voting hacks just to name a few.  While at the same time we have numerous leadership positions within cyber that are vacant and similarly the staff positions remain open as the divide seems to grow between the demand for cybersecurity professionals and the number of candidates that possess the requisite skills to fill these slots.

This is a critical issue which plagues the public as well as the private sectors. Until and unless we get serious about cyber and begin to develop a pipeline for a skilled cyber workforce we are going to continue to suffer devastating cyber attacks.  We need to act now and it is vitally important that a clear set of priorities is identified and articulated so that we can begin to take the requisite short and mid-term steps necessary both to avert our current cyber issues as well as those that inevitably will plague us going forward.

That starts with leadership and action vs. non-action and disjointed off-the-cuff rhetoric.  While we may face imminent threats around the globe from conventional actors, the rise of cyber leaves us exposed and vulnerable both abroad and at-home.  If we can’t put people in these leadership positions and give them the tools they need to implement cohesive and intelligent cyber strategies then the coming cyber attacks are likely to increase in both scope and frequency.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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