The draft strategy paper for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is on the street and soliciting comments. Aside from having an unfortunate acronym (my military background makes calling something like this “Nice” seem troublesome), this is a very important effort.

The NICE project hits on the three main “legs” of a national education effort. Some folks have compared this need to the efforts put forth after Sputnik. If that seems trite or overblown to you, I respectfully submit that it is, in fact, a bigger need.

NICE calls for three goals. These are: to raise awareness of cyber threats; to broaden the pool of skilled workers; and to develop and maintain a cybersecurity workforce. The first goal focuses on the general public, to make them cognizant of the threats we ALL face. Two focuses on the country’s wider educational needs so that those who are called to cyber are ready to enter this field. The second goal also focuses on having all our workers to a point where they are part of the cyber solution versus the problem as we have today. Number three deals with how we take those aware and prepared citizens and turn them into the real cyber warriors we need, not just in the defense and security fields, but pretty much everywhere in our system.

Everyone is striving to develop the cyber “silver bullet,” and they should be burning the midnight oil to get there, but that will not solve our problems. We have to have a program like NICE that makes the effort to institute fundamental changes in our system, which fix our present deficiencies. Without NICE, we will remain vulnerable for years to come.

Will this happen today? No. Perhaps during this Administration? No. If that is true, why bother? Simply because if we do not start now, we will fall further and further behind the bad guys.

This program is not sexy, folks, but it is the long-term solution to the systemic cyber weaknesses that plague America.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More