Although it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, the threat is real and so is the growing industry of cybermercenaries. According to British security services, an unnamed London based company sustained losses of $1.29 billion a few years back in a cyberattack. Globally, these attacks have become quite expensive. Research conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington puts global losses between $80 billion and $400 billion per year.
Governments and corporations from Indonesia to Brazil are struggling to find the right cyberwarriors to fight back. Last month, the United Kingdom publicized a new Joint Cyber Reserve and the United States military Cyber Command unit is planning to add 4,000 new personnel by 2015, quadrupling its current size. However, the number of qualified personnel is far less than the demand for specialists and the best talents are finding salaries in the private sector much more appealing.
“As with anything, it really comes down to human capital and there simply isn’t enough of it,” said Chris Finan, 2011-12 White House director for cybersecurity. “They will choose where they work based on salary, lifestyle and the lack of an interfering bureaucracy and that makes it particularly hard to get them into government.” Finan is now working for a startup in Silicon Valley and is a senior fellow at the Truman National Security Project.
A new graduate with a computer studies degree can receive a golden handshake of $100,000 and a matching yearly salary in the private sector, which is much more than the National Security Agency might offer. A sense of public service and patriotism allows some talent to be retained by the government.
Education is not necessarily a factor in drawing these high salaries. Experience and top skills in highly demanded areas can bring the computer perceptive individual $110,000 to $140,000 per year in compensation with highly skilled geeks pulling in as much as $200,000 annually in the private sector.
Ambersail (http://www.ambersail.uk.com/) is an experienced Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). Operating in many parts of the world we work with banks, retailers, software vendors, manufacturers and government bodies.
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