The Department of Homeland Security is opening an office in Silicon Valley, claiming it is needed for sharing, collaborating and building relationships.
Some industry watchers, however, aren't so sure the motive is pure and believe it may be more a lobbying quest to get big tech players to pull back on encryption use.
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who made the office announcement on Tuesday at the RSA security conference happening this week in San Francisco, also claims the satellite security office will help the federal government lure some cyber security experts onto the government payroll.
"We want to strengthen critical relationships in Silicon Valley and ensure that the government and the private sector benefit from each other's research and development," Johnson said in a keynote speech. "And we want to convince some of the talented workforce here in Silicon Valley to come to Washington."
The news comes at a time when federal security agencies and the tech sector aren't too happy with each other, to put it in simple terms. One obvious reason is the revelation of unauthorized surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Feds pushing big tech vendors to pull back on security so that the NSA and other agencies can easily access data if needed.
"Our inability to access encrypted information poses public safety challenges. In fact, encryption is making it harder for your government to find criminal activity, and potential terrorist activity," Johnson said, explaining how tech companies and the government should work collaboratively for a solution to the issue.
In relation to Federal IT and security hiring goals, Johnson believes it would be easier to recruit bright and talented Silicon Valley minds if Uncle Sam were right nearby.
"We want to convince the talented workforce to come to Washington," said Johnson. "The government doesn't have all the answers nor do we have all the talent ... We need each other and we must work together. There are things government can do for you and there are things you can [help us do]."
One big job that needs to be filled is an "all star" for the role of DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, noted Johnson.