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Twice as NICE

Photo: James Kegley

As each day passes, the challenges to the nation’s cyberinfrastructure grow — with each newly purchased mobile device and each hacker putting the final touches on a plot to take advantage of an individual, company or federal agency.


Photo: James Kegley

As each day passes, the challenges to the nation’s cyberinfrastructure grow — with each newly purchased mobile device and each hacker putting the final touches on a plot to take advantage of an individual, company or federal agency.

To protect against this growing threat, in early 2010 the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) was developed to expand on Initiative No. 8 of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI-8). The administration tapped the National Institute of Standards and Technology to lead the agencies that are implementing NICE.

NICE’s vision is to enhance the overall cybersecurity posture of the United States by accelerating the availability of educational and training resources designed to improve the cyber behavior, skills and knowledge of every population segment while leading the world toward a safer cyberspace for all. NICE’s four components are awareness, education, workforce and training. Although this list of responsibilities is a challenge in itself, to give a sense of the scope and breadth of NICE’s goal, we are beginning first in the federal space. Then, NICE will grow to include national and eventually international participants.

Building awareness of the issues and challenges in cyberspace facing us all is a major goal of the initiative, as is undertaking a detailed analysis of the cybersecurity workforce. Activities to date have been directed at determining the nature and status of all legacy programs under CNCI-8. Once this is accomplished, we will consider how they can be expanded where appropriate and what additional programs need to be established to achieve the goals and vision of NICE.

Where We’re Headed

To realize these goals, a number of first steps are necessary — you can’t get where you want to go unless you first know where you are. So where are we?

To answer this question, I have spent time meeting with stakeholders in government, the private sector and academia. Through these meetings, I have spread the word about NICE and our goals, and learned what individual agencies, organizations and institutions are doing, what resources have been dedicated to these efforts, what pieces are still missing and, most important, what level of willingness exists to collaborate.

To my pleasant surprise, I have encountered universal agreement that NICE is moving down the correct path and that people want to take part. Also, there is not only strong interest in the initiative but also recognition that an integrated, coordinated collaborative approach is essential to the initiative’s success and the wisest use of our limited resources.

The next step for NICE will be to form a large public-private partnership that will allow the efforts to really get off the ground. This year will be an exciting time for NICE as the various components of the initiative begin to develop and mature. As resources become available and procedures are defined, NICE will build upon the strong foundation established by CNCI-8. The NICE team at NIST welcomes the challenge of leading this ambitious and important effort.

On May 29, 2009, from the East Room of the White House, President Obama’s closing remarks on securing our nation’s infrastructure were straightforward: “So a new world awaits — a world of greater security and greater potential prosperity — if we reach for it, if we lead. So long as I’m President of the United States, we will do just that. And the United States — the nation that invented the Internet, that launched an information revolution, that transformed the world — will do what we did in the 20th century and lead once more in the 21st.”

The NICE team at NIST is proud to play a small role in helping achieve this goal.

Jan 24 2011

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