It's no secret that American businesses and the government are under constant attack from hackers around the world. That's just the nature of living in the 21st century. But a new audit says that America is even less prepared to defend against these attacks than we thought.
The problem? Competent people don't want to work for the FBI because of non-competitive pay and a tough requirement relating to a potential employee's drug history — going back as far as ten years.
The new report from the Justice Department explains the the FBI's Next Generation Cyber Initiative, launched in 2012, has seen plenty of set-backs. Chief among them is that they just can't snag the top level cybersecurity experts that they'd like.
The private sector is simply offering people more money than the Justice Department. And even if the FBI finds someone good, they often have to turn them down because of antiquated background check rules.
From the report:
Another FBI official told us that the FBI loses a significant number of people who may be interested because of the FBI's extensive background check process and other requirements, such as all employees must be United States citizens and must not have used marijuana in the past 3 years, and cannot have used any other illegal drug in the past 10 years. Another factor may be that private sector entities are able to offer technically trained, cyber professionals higher salaries than the FBI can offer.
These and other policies have left the FBI's task force understaffed. The report found that of the 134 computer scientists that it had been authorised to hire under the Initiative, it still had 52 open positions. What's perhaps more astounding was that of the 56 FBI field offices, five didn't even have a single computer scientist assigned to that office's Cyber Task Force.
The FBI is currently examining the recruitment methods of the NSA and CIA with the hopes of attracting qualified candidates for employment. Some of those techniques will no doubt include higher pay.