The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is understaffed and struggling to attract computer scientists to handle cybersecurity tasks because of low pay and strict protocol.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has released a report that highlights some of the weaknesses of the FBI in hiring competitive computer scientists.
The DOJ report suggests that there are 56 field offices of FBI and cyber task forces have been set up at all the offices. However, five of these offices do not have a computer scientist assigned.
Cyber threat is on the rise and cyber security is one of the top priorities of the DOJ. A number of cyber-attacks in the last few years have targeted private businesses in the U.S. as well as government agencies.
In fiscal year 2014, FBI had a budget of $314 million for its cybersecurity program that included about 1,333 full-time employees. However, the cybersecurity department of the FBI remained understaffed. The report discovered that the FBI was authorized to hire 134 computer scientists; however, 52 positions were still vacant by January 2015.
"Recruitment and retention of qualified candidates remain a challenge for the FBI, as private sector entities are often able to offer higher salaries and typically have a less extensive background investigation process," per [pdf] the DOJ report.
The report highlighted that the FBI would reject a suitable candidate who was found to have used marijuana in the last three years. Suitable candidates were not selected for FBI's cybersecurity department if they had any illegal drugs in the last 10 years.
In early 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported that its computer system was attacked by Chinese hackers and data of more than 22.1 million people got affected as a result of the breach.
Recruiting may be difficult at FBI but the report added that FBI agents who were interviewed indicated that the federal agency's mission motivates them to stay with FBI.
The FBI is reviewing its recruitment process for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and is hoping to attract more qualified candidates. The FBI may also try to attract suitable candidates by offering a higher salary to the right candidate.
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