San Diego’s SAIC Emerging as Key Player in Nation’s Cyber-Security Battle

9/3/09Follow @bvbigelow

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me a new perspective on yesterday’s disclosure by SAIC (the company also known as Science Applications International Corp.) that it had recently won a prime contract for $388 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide scientific, engineering, and technical services to support the NCS. The company describes NCS, or the National Communications System, as “a cornerstone of the country’s ability to provide key communications services to support government functions during emergencies.”

Yet Paller suggests that such disclosures represent only part of a cyber-security picture in which SAIC has emerged as the single most important player.

sans-logoThe SANS research director tells me the government has been hiring “thousands” of computer security experts to man the nation’s cyber-ramparts. Paller says the key factor in recruiting cyber-warriors is in providing people with the necessary skills to understand and respond to sophisticated, persistent, and coordinated attacks on U.S. computer networks. The continuing government recruiting effort goes largely unseen, Paller says, because these jobs are classified.

And how does he know this? “We’re helping with a big manpower study for the Center for Strategic and International Studies,” Paller says. (The center, a bipartisan and non-profit government research and public policy organization, has been supporting the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency.)

To Paller, San Diego’s SAIC “is the only major defense contractor that is able to deliver large numbers of people with advanced technical security skills. The military leaders know that in cyberspace, the only effective weapons are people with advanced technical skills, not packaged tools. That means the winning contractors will deliver people with proven skills in intrusion detection, forensics vulnerability analysis and exploit development, reverse engineering malware, advanced penetration testing—especially application penetration testing, perimeter leakage and protection, and similar skills.”

And it’s all happening behind the scenes.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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