Contractors see promising future as government hackers

The rush is on to hire the best talent, acquire the best firms for cyberwarfare

The white hot business opportunity that cyber warfare presents has sparked a spirited competition among the nation’s largest government contractors.

Household names such as General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon Co. are vying with each other to position themselves to win cyber warfare contracts as the Obama administration prepares to spend billions to obtain cyber warfare capabilities to outperform the Chinese and Russians.

The nature of the work, an interesting mix of geek meets secret agent, is attracting fresh young talent to large government contractors that would previously have been drawn to Silicon Valley, writes Christopher Drew and John Markoff of the New York Times.

The companies are signing up new talent and hiring experts as fast as they can to outdo their competitors. They are hiring people with the brains and skill to block cyber attacks and design countermeasures. They are not only scouring the country for such talent, but also snapping up smaller firms specializing in cyber warfare and cyber deterrence.

Top executives with contractors such as CACI International Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. praised President Barack Obama for announcing last week that he will soon appoint a cyber czar to lead a focused, five-point program aimed at protecting the security of computer networks, reports Washington Technology.

“The timing is perfect. There is a lot of enthusiasm for it,” said Zal Azmi, CACI’s senior vice president for strategic law enforcement and national security programs. Of the five-point plan, he said, “It’s a very comprehensive plan. It lays out a very good strategy.”

On the East Coast, contractor facilities from Florida to Massachusetts are gearing up to provide cyber expertise to the Defense Department. Raytheon has a facility just outside of the Kennedy Space Center where young cyber engineers are honing their skills.

And the effort has sparked a business renaissance of sorts in Massachusetts where computer science research centers such as the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University stand prepared to partner with or advise contractors such as Raytheon and Mitre Corp. that are based in the region, reports Jackie Noblett with the Boston Business Journal in an article published earlier this year.

In the weeks and months ahead, the top federal contractors might scale back some business lines to concentrate more fully on the golden opportunity embodied in cyber warfare. And contractors also are likely to make internal realignments to muster as much subject matter expertise as possible from their units to focus on the opportunity.

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