Need for digital security spurs growth of cyber security field

the end of the second year students earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science in addition to multiple federal-level computer security certificates as endorsed by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS).

Because of the ever-changing cyber world, employees with ever-developing skill sets are needed, creating a challenge for employers, says Cluff. Though there is some uncertainty about what the new fiscal year will bring in terms of the budget available for cyber security professionals, the need is definitely there, says Cluff. “It’s just an issue of how much, how many, and how soon.”

Raytheon Company’s Vice President of Information Security Solutions Steve Hawkins agrees with Cluff’s regarding the increasing need for cyber security professionals, or “cyber warriors,” as Raytheon likes to call them. In the past several years, Hawkins told Sorgen, Raytheon has added 500 of these security professionals to its staff, with an additional 200 being hired this year. “There’s a significant need for people who can understand both computer operating systems and those systems’ interactions with computer hardware,” Hawkins says. “You have to get into both to be able to detect vulnerabilities.”

To address the current hiring need, Raytheon has established an environment in which their cyber warriors can operate with speed and have the freedom to innovate. “This approach has been important in helping us attract top talent,” Hawkins says.

Even skilled computer pros need ongoing training, and Raytheon has created an internal cyber warrior training program to hone both the defensive and offensive techniques of its workers. “You have to understand how to repair a system that’s under attack, but you also have to know how hackers can attack a system in the first place so you can prevent it from occurring,” says Hawkins.

Raytheon’s cyber warriors participate in simulated cyber attacks on each other, but also compete in worldwide competitions, such as the one held recently during the 2009 Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems Worldwide Conference in Orlando, Florida, in which Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency professionals showcased their expertise in a Capture the Flag challenge as an educational experience for the more than 2,000 attendees at the conference.

A typical Capture the Flag competition is a computer security war game during which each team is given a machine (or small network) to defend on an isolated network. Teams are scored on both their success in defending their assigned machine and on their success in exploiting other team’s machines.

Raytheon employees took first place in the team and individual categories at the conference.

Current hiring needs are a priority, but so too are the needs of the future, says Hawkins, pointing out that labor forecasts estimate that 450,000 high-tech college graduates per year are going to be needed so that we can continue to be a technology-driven country.

To that end, Raytheon initiated the MathMovesU program in 2005, to inspire middle school students to consider math, science, and engineering education and careers.

According to Hawkins, the MathMovesU interactive website has attracted over 900,000 visitors from all fifty states and the District of Columbia and 166 countries. Raytheon also awards more than $2 million annually in scholarships and grants to students, teachers, and schools nationwide, while 1,050 $1,000 MathMovesU scholarships have been awarded to students with matching grants awarded to their schools. In addition, 129 Math Heroes (teachers and tutors) have received $2,500 grants.


Raytheon has spent over $6 million beyond the scholarships and grants on the MathMovesU program since its launch,” Hawkins, who frequently attends one of the more than 100 live MathMovesU events held annually across the country, told Sorgen. Approximately 10,000 Raytheon employees also volunteer annually for MathMovesU-related programs including mentoring and tutoring programs, science fairs, robotics and math team coaching and school visits

When you see these youngsters’ eyes brighten, you know you’re making a difference,” says Hawkins. “It’s important for us to pique their interest now. These students will be the ones to meet the compelling need in the battle for the future of our country.”