If you were 15 years old, when you were being fascinated by your school's Commodore PET in 1979 and are still are in IT, you have almost 40 years 37 years of experience. You have seen it all: IBM XT, Pentium 2, LOTUS 1-2-3, O/S2, to cloud computing and mobile apps. Why do I say it like this? I have a simple reason: We look at on IT professionals with the metrics of the 19th century. Naturally, you needed to be young, strong, and quick to be one of the riders in the "Army on the Frontier" dashing across the Rockies, but things have changed.
Cyber is not your traditional war, as we have seen it since the first recollection of the war when the Sumerians beat the Elamites in 2700 BC and forward to early 2000s. In cyber we don't walk for days, endure thirst and intense sunshine., Instead we shout "Is there a slice over for me?" when the pizza is ripped apart by hungry nerds in an air-conditioned environment.
The fact that we have individuals who that are in their early 50s with almost 40 years of IT experience is a national asset — and we have a lot of them. You can just visit any major tech conference where they flock as ants on a lump of sugar around the next new cutting-edge technology like ants on a lump of sugar. There are thousands and thousands of mature tech nerds.
Money may not be is not the only factor these individuals consider. They may might even be so old-fashioned that they are ready to do something that doesn't pay that much but is a real contribution to their fellow Americans and become citizen cyber soldiers. What if we could create Why can't we create Department of Defense reserve cyber units that are Network Engineering-Resilience and Defense (NERD) units? They might not meet the DoD’s height and weight ratio — and they are over normal recruiting age — but I believe they could do a real contribution, especially to help the 6,000 counties and 50 states that face the same cyber challenge as the federal sector.
We address the weapons of mass destruction threat with the civil support teams (WMD-CST), and we could address cyber for state and local government with creating a Network Engineering-Resilience and Defense (NERD)-unit in each state, and several platoons in larger states, and with the a core of full-time military cyber personnel and an ability to scale up with additional mature qualified members slightly older than the traditional soldiers. The unit stays in the state and is never deployed, which would allows the unit it to accept geeks who that don't meet the regular military standards for physical ability, agility, and endurance. There is no need to train to reach a common body of knowledge or general IT technology, the old geeks come with all their certifications already, and the idea is that their cyber defense is a state-wide resource. In the early days of the Second World War, America was very innovative and unconventional, as when Commander Whitehead put forward that naval aviator training on flat-tops was better off training on the shores of Chicago out of reach from German submarines than in the Atlantic were they should been sitting ducks for the Germans, which broke away from traditional thinking.
Cyber needs a push toward forward from untraditional thinking. Only Just because someone remembers Betamax, DOS 3.2 and still thinks a 14.4 modem was decently fast doesn't remove the fact that the older IT professionals could be geeks are powerful in today's cyber battle space — and we have plenty of old geeks to militarize and fill the ranks in the national cyber defense. The need is there and we have the resource: We need just to acknowledge and organize.
Jan Kallberg is a research scientist with the website cyberdefense.com.