The ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government has impacted federal cybersecurity according to several reports. The roughly 800,000 federal workers currently on furloughinclude:
- 45% of staff from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is tasked with defending critical infrastructure from cyber and physical threats.
- 80% of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which oversees the Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis and the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications.
- 85% of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which produces the Cybersecurity Framework of private and public sector security standards.
The Department of Homeland Security’s 2019 Cybersecurity and Innovation Showcase, initially scheduled to begin January 8, was also cancelled.
While essential offices and staff continue to work--including the U.S. Cyber Command, the Treasury Department’s IT and computer security incident response--many federal employees are doing so without pay and with minimal or greatly diminished support.
“[A] lot of real heavy lifting to secure the critical infrastructure is done by my DHS colleagues. None are being paid — including those running the 24-hour watch at the NCCIC [National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center] — and only half of them are able to do their job,” said National Telecommunications and Information Administration director of cybersecurity Allan Friedman on Twitter.
In addition to the short term risk of increased vulnerability to cyber attack, the shutdown could drive qualified candidates away from the public sector for years to come.
“Cybersecurity is a very competitive field, with a significant shortage worldwide of qualified personnel... In this shutdown these amazing people are being told not to do their jobs, or in some cases, to do it for free,” wrote Global Cyber Alliance President and CEO Philip Reitinger in an editorial. “Faced with little respect, low and uncertain pay, arbitrary disruption, and an inability to accomplish the mission they love, people leave government, and in the future, never work for it in the first place.”
Adam Levin is the founder and chairman of CyberScout.