US military plans major boost for cyber force

The US plans a substantial expansion for its cyber security force, increasing the headcount from 900 to 4,900 in the next few years

The US plans a major expansion for its cyber security force, increasing the headcount from 900 to 4,900 in the next few years.

The expansion plan by Pentagon officials recognises the growing threat in cyber space. The cyber threat has been highlighted by a string of sabotage attacks, including one last August in which a virus was used to wipe data from more than 30,000 computers at a Saudi Arabian state oil company.

While yet to be formally announced, the enlargement comes at the request of General Keith Alexander, head of the US military’s cyber command, according to the Washington Post.

The expansion plan was approved late in 2012 and is intended to protect national infrastructure such as electrical grids, fortify military networks and support "offensive operations" abroad.

Although the US cyber command was established three years ago, it has largely been occupied with developing policy and legal frameworks, and ensuring military networks are defended.

Current and former defense officials said the expansion plan will allow the command to better fulfill its original mission.

Although generally agreed to by the military’s service chiefs, the plan has raised concerns about how the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force will find so many qualified cyber security personnel and train them.

A lack of people with the appropriate skills is widely acknowledged on both sides of the Atlantic as being a major challenge to bringing national cyber defence capabilities up to standard.

Last October, the UK government announced a new Global Cyber Security Capacity Building Centre, which will be hosted within the UK’s network of centres of excellence for cyber security.

Currently eight universities which have been awarded this status based on their world-class research capability in this field.

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