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November 2019, Vol. 20, No. 4

A cybersecurity skills gap demands thinking outside the box

A 22-year-old hacker without a degree might not look like a candidate for a six-figure public-sector job, but the Department of Homeland Security's Christopher Krebs wants the federal government to look twice. Krebs, director of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said the longstanding General Schedule pay scale -- which bases federal job requirements and employee salaries on stringent education and experience metrics -- hamstrings the department's cybersecurity hiring practices to disastrous effect. Krebs and his DHS colleagues want flexibility to bring on less conventional hires -- a network administrator with a keen interest in security, say, or a self-taught tech whiz with a decade of informal yet substantive experience. "By the standards we have in place right now, I can't reward that person and pay them the way they could be paid in the private sector," he recently told the U.S. House of Representatives' appropriations committee. To help fill the cybersecurity skills gap, Krebs has helped spearhead a ...

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