Your Cybersecurity Problem is a People Problem

A special edition of GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER was held Wednesday. We host these events once each month this year. The idea is simple: get smart people together and share ideas — because we believe that the real power of information comes when it is shared.

Listen to the full archive below, and read a brief recap of the event here.


A lot of the times when we talk about IT issues or cybersecurity threats, we saw that your tech problem is your people problem. Oftentimes that means that people are human, and are often unintentionally making mistakes that cause security issues for agencies.

But when we talk about how your cybersecurity problem is a people problem, in this case, we mean a human capital problem. As security threats grow and expand, and attacks are on the rise against agencies, the government continues to have issues attracting and hiring the right talent with the right skills to help combat these issues.

This topic was a focus of a recent DorobekINSIDER Live, where Chris Dorobek brought together several CIOs and former CIOs to discuss the biggest concerns around government cybersecurity issue today.

Ira Hobbs, former Treasury Department CIO and founder of Hobbs and Hobbs Consulting, said his biggest concern these days is one of human capital. “How do we find the right people with the right skills and put them in the right office?” he asked. “Also, we need to be able to harness that talent so it works collaboratively and is integrated across very large departments with very different informational requirement and needs. Once you acquire the talent, then, how do you keep them trained and ready so they can keep responding to new threats that continue to arise daily?”

Rob Carey, former DoD CIO, said you can get talented folks who are desirous of serving the nation — but you had to keep up with training and keeping them sharp. And there is a fierce competition for these people. “Young people have more choices than they used to have,” Carey said. “They want to know, can I work from home? Is the job flexible? Will you pay me adequately?

Carey added that every agency he’s talked to in the past few months has struggled with filling those roles. But he’s not entirely unoptimistic. “We’re not in as bad straights as we might portend,” he explained. “Universities, colleges, even high schools re growing kids these days with far more skills than, say, a 35-year-old 10 years ago. They’re immersing themselves in these skills in a way thats never happened before.

This workforce issue isn’t a cybersecurity issue,” said Hobbs. “It’s a government problem. Its all about succession planning and getting things and getting into place to face these looming threats. We need more training and development. Can we do it?”

Do you think we have a cybersecurity hiring problem? How can we fix it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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