Making Cyber Cool

Though the Air Force “will never be able to compete with industry when it comes to salary or dollars,” leaders hope they can retain trained cyber warriors by offering them a chance to serve their country—and an opportunity to do things they can’t legally do in the private sector, said Brig. Gen. Patrick Higby, chief information officer in the office of the Secretary of the Air Force. “We’re going after the coolness factor,” said Higby, during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast on Thursday. The Air Force is working on ways to expand the school house to accommodate a skyrocketing demand for cyber forces, he noted. The service also is working on developing a cyber aptitude test, and has started offering “constructive credit” on the reserve side for recruits who may already have significant cyber experience and certifications, he said. But retaining cyber experts will be a continuous challenge. In addition, Higby said the Air Force must find ways to invest now to prevent future hacks, which frequently result in a “gargantuan bill.” For example, he noted, the Office of Personnel Management hack cost the Air Force about $37 million, not counting man hours.