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DHS launched CTMS to Curb Cybersecurity Crunch

The Biden-Harris administration is taking several key actions to strengthen American cybersecurity defenses. The talent shortage in cybersecurity is one of the significant challenges every industry is currently facing. In an attempt to address this challenge, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to hire about 150 mission-critical roles across 2022. The Department even set up a portal called “Cybersecurity Talent Management System (CTMS)” to accept applications for these pivotal roles. DHS launched CTMS to help the department recruit, retain, and develop cybersecurity professionals for the government.

Cybersecurity Talent Crisis

Talent shortage and cybersecurity were mainly IT industry problems until the pandemic as IT teams operated chiefly in controlled environments. With most employees working from home and cyber-attacks becoming more frequent, hiring cybersecurity professionals has become critical for every business. But more importantly, evidently for the critical infrastructure industry. Hence, the cybersecurity talent shortage is a crisis in almost every sector.

At the same time, demand is snowballing. The US News and World Report positioned the information security analysis profession 8th out of the 100 best careers last year. They expressed that the growth rate of this profession was 36.5% through 2022. Meanwhile, the cybersecurity occupation hit a 0% unemployment rate. That being said, the 2019/2020 cybersecurity Ventures report foretells that 3.5 million security jobs will be left vacated globally by 2021.

The talent need and gap are only continuing to widen. It has become challenging for government agencies and Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) to hire talented professionals to strengthen their defenses.

Need for DHS to launch CTMS

The CTMS will now contend for extremely sought-after cybersecurity experts who command big salaries in this competitive market.

“[The] DHS is just one federal Department, but it plays a special role in responding to major cyberattacks on US critical infrastructure. CTMS will enable DHS to fill mission-critical cybersecurity positions by screening applicants based on demonstrated competencies, competitively compensating employees, and reducing the time it takes to be hired into the Department,” the DHS said in a statement.

The notice also mentions that “For FY 2022, DHS requested that funding be increased to approximately $16 million both to launch and administer [the] CTMS and to support the management of an expanding population of DHS cybersecurity employees”.

New Age Processes

The CTMS takes advantage of a 2014 law that allowed the Department to work around the General Schedule, requiring a rigid classification format. To meet the market expectations and attract good talent, DHS  will pay cybersecurity professionals a salary that will be more or equivalent to a vice president’s salary. They also have an extended range that can be used in limited circumstances.

The CTMS will have a more streamlined hiring process that will eliminate many unnecessary steps. Also, unlike one-size-fits-all government applications, the applicants will have to fill in customized applications based on their skills, competencies, and job requirements.

Not just that, even the assessments tests will be closer to the real-world challenges to test the applicant’s competence that the job will demand. Other Benefits of the CTMS process include:

  • Competitive salaries based on their demonstrated skills and expertise;
  • Salary increases and other incentives are driven by employees’ impact on the DHS cybersecurity mission;
  • Access to regular training and professional development opportunities to increase career exposure and further refine specialized skills in alignment with their interests and career goals;
  • Regular benefits from other federal hiring programs such as health and retirement benefits; and
  • Compensation for working through long or unusual hours, often when responding to cyber threats.

The current openings focus on mission-critical roles at the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) and the Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. But moving forward, openings will be not just for seasoned professionals. The DHS Cybersecurity Service has career opportunities at every level, whether for students, specialists, technical experts, or executives.

The CTMS will come into effect from 15th Nov 2021, and the Department will accept public comments until 31st Dec 2021.

Market Impact

At the outset, it looks like the CTMS will make the market more competitive. However, it will soon create a large talent pool of qualified cybersecurity professionals. The CTMS is bound to make cybersecurity a lucrative career and will attract more skilled employees. The domino effect is that when college graduates and students become enthusiastic about joining cybersecurity jobs, more colleges will have better programs designed around cybersecurity—adding to the much-needed talent pool.

Additionally, having more and more aspirants in the market will make the entire society more security aware! If such incentives continue, we will have a security-conscious society.

What does it mean for your Business?

Having qualified professionals with hands-on market experience at the DHS will bring better compliance requirements to various sectors and be more practical to follow and implement.

Until then, the SMBs who are already facing a supply crunch in terms of cybersecurity talent and becoming cyber victims will have to realize the government’s importance on cybersecurity. They can rely on experienced Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) to strengthen their existing infrastructure and meet customer and industry expectations in terms of cybersecurity. If you plan to hire an MSSP or need some pointers to qualify your Managed Services Provider (MSP) to hand over the cybersecurity responsibility of your business, please read our blog to get a comprehensive understanding.