Federal Manager's Daily Report

The recent partial shutdown will have make even more difficult the government’s struggles to recruit and retain employees in cybersecurity positions, according to a report by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank.

It notes that many cybersecurity positions were not deemed excepted for protection of life and property–DHS, for example furloughed about half of its cyber personnel–and says that “many reported feeling like undervalued pawns in a political game. Worse, many early career cybersecurity professionals who were already accepting lower salaries than their counterparts in the private sector have been instilled with a sense of doubt in their decision to work for the federal government. The government cannot afford to lose any cybersecurity professionals; let alone young talent who may be more adept at navigating emerging technologies.”

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Both those furloughed and those who continued to work unpaid will reconsider their employment options out of disillusionment with “what was supposed to be a stable job with a steady paycheck and unparalleled benefits,” while “emerging talent will be hesitant to enter the public sector,” it says.

“Due to the impact of the shutdown, the public sector will need to offer significant incentives to attract emerging cyber talent as well as to retain its current personnel,” it said. “These should include actions that restore confidence in current and future cybersecurity professionals in the security of their jobs such as deeming cybersecurity workers as essential personnel, therefore shielding them from the impacts of any future shutdowns.”

Federal agencies already commonly offer incentives such as recruitment and retention payments in those high-demand jobs but even so, cybersecurity has been one of the most understaffed fields.