2017 Archives

SMU cyber defender Fred Chang advises congressional subcommittee on growing demand for cyber workforce

Whack-a-mole approach to cybersecurity staffing won’t work, Chang says

September 15, 2017

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s Frederick R. Chang, executive director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, recently urged a congressional subcommittee to remember the success of Cold War-era legislation that dedicated more than $1 billion to growing the “space race” workforce as a model for closing the 21st century cyber security skills gap.

SMU’s Frederick R. Chang, executive director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, recently urged a congressional subcommittee to remember the success of Cold War-era legislation Chang testified recently before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee on “Challenges of recruiting and retaining a Cybersecurity Workforce.” He submitted written testimony in advance of his Sept. 7 appearance, spoke briefly to the committee from that testimony and then answered questions from subcommittee members. The hearing was videotaped and may be viewed here. The hearing begins shortly after the 3-minute mark and Chang’s opening remarks begin at 15:45.

The hearing fell the same day that that it was revealed that a data breach at Equifax Inc.  had potentially exposed vital information on about 143 million Americans. “Cyber attacks are growing in frequency and they are growing in sophistication – but the availability of cyber security professionals to deal with these challenges is unfortunately not keeping pace,” said subcommittee chair John Ratcliffe, R-Tx.

One estimate, Ratcliffe said, forecasts a worldwide shortage of 1.8 million cyber security workers five years from now.

“In general, the actions that are being taken now are important, valuable and are making a difference,” Chang testified.  “But given that these actions are being taken, and that the cyber skills gap continues to grow, tells me that we must do more.  In 1958 science education in America got a shot in the arm when the National Defense Education Act was passed the year after the Soviet satellite “Sputnik” was launched into outer space. This act helped launch a generation of students who would study math and science.

“So while we need to work very hard to recruit and retain urgent cyber positions today and into the future, I hope we can also consider the future of cyber space, how secure will it be, how will we defend it?” Chang said.  “Today’s students will be responsible for designing, creating, operating, maintaining and defending tomorrow’s cyber infrastructure. We need a large and capable pool of folks to staff these positions for the future.”

Chang joined SMU in September 2013 to develop a multidisciplinary program aimed at tackling the most pressing cyber challenges facing individuals, business and government today. He is executive director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security, the Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security, and professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He also is a Senior Fellow in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in SMU’s Dedman College. Chang’s career spans service in the private sector and in government including as the former Director of Research at the National Security Agency.

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