#4: A Cyber Leadership Deficit

There has been a lot of talk about cyber security over the last few months. The Obama Administration named it as one of its number one homeland security priorities. Everyone in Washington has an opinion about what should be done from regulating the private sector to more research and development. There is also disagreement over who should take the lead. Some plans start with the private sector, some start with Congress. Others think the White House should direct the strategy for cyber security, and there are more squabbles over which agency.

What is apparent, however, is that the cyber is an issue. Attacks, directed against the public and private sectors, have intensified over the past decade. And both state and non-state actors are getting in the mix.

To combat these threats, the federal government needs a high level of competency on cyber security issues. As Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell phrased it, the country is “not prepared to deal with it. The military is best protected, the federal government is not well protected, and the private sector is not well protected.”

James Carafano and Eric Sayers have recommended ways in which to develop these cyber strategic leadership skills in the U.S. government and private sector. For instance, they emphasis the need for “a professional development system that can provide a program of education, assignment and accreditation to develop a corps of experienced dedicated service professionals who have expertise in the breadth of issues related to the cyber environment.”

But Carafano and Sayers don’t make this a government-only endeavor. They point that that “this program must be backed by effective public-private partnerships that produce cutting-edge research, development, and capabilities to operate with freedom, safe and security in the cyber world.”

Society relies more than ever on the cyber sphere to function, providing all the more incentive for the bad guys to use this medium to wreak havoc. The time to start a responsible dialogue on cyber security is now.

“Five Things About Homeland Security That Nobody Is Discussing” is a series of posts discussing aspects of protecting the homeland. For a comprehensive look at the big picture in homeland security, enroll today in The Heritage Foundation’s Homeland Security University. Click here for details.