Boost aerospace education, support Boeing in cybersecurity

In a presentation we prepared for the 2010 Governor’s Aerospace Summit organized by the Aerospace Future’s Alliance, we urged the State of Washington to beef up its financial support for aerospace training and education; the creation of a Washington Council on Cybersecurity; the creation of dedicated cybersecurity course in colleges and universities; and the support of Boeing’s Cybersecurity unit of Defense, Space & Securities division.

The presentation may be downloaded here: AFA Oct 2010

Cybersecurity is a major effort by Boeing, and other aerospace companies, to meet the growing threats in cyberspace. The Department of Defense is the target of millions of probes each month, and the attacks don’t end here. For every publicized attack on social media that we read about, or the likes of and other commercial entities, these are viewed by defense circles as test runs by foreign entities. DOD’s war plans conclude that any armed conflict with the US will be preceded by cyber attacks. The armed conflict doesn’t have to be on homeland soil, but could be regional elsewhere. One such scenario is a conflict with China over Taiwan issues, in which cyber attacks precede this regional conflict.

China, of course, is frequently identified as a source for cyber attacks, a charge Chinese officials reject every time. But universities there have dedicated courses in how to breach cybersecurity while the US falls short every year of graduating the number of cyber engineers of all disciplines required. The 2008 figure is there is a demand for 450,000 such graduates annually and we are only producing 225,000.

Boeing, like many aerospace companies, are reduced to going to hackers conventions to find experts in cybersecurity.

Boeing has long recognized the need for cybersecurity. The company years ago expanded its own corporate efforts to a full business unit, and contracts with the US government (mostly Homeland Security) to provide these services. Other aerospace companies contract with DOD, the White House, Treasury and other branches.

Washington State has special needs. We have a major oil refinery (in Anacortes, 90 miles north of Seattle) and several key military bases (Everett, Bangor, Bremerton, Ft. Lewis/McChord and Fairchild/Spokane); we have a major hydropower source in Grand Coulee Dam in the north central part of the state that provides power for Washington, Idaho, Oregon and northern California and which is tied into the national power grid. Boeing has major efforts in the “Smart Grid” (power grid) arena for cybersecurity. Not only would a cyber attack on the power grid have national security implications, the State’s economy is greatly dependent upon this inexpensive power supply.

So our presentation to the Governor’s Summit is markedly different than the one we did last year, in which we focused on traditional aerospace issues. This year focuses on education, training and cybersecurity–and how the State can support Boeing in its efforts in this critical area.

3 Comments on “Boost aerospace education, support Boeing in cybersecurity

  1. You indicated the number of needed graduates based on 2008 estimates. What are the most recent numbers of gradiates entering the field?

    That is, with job opportunities in this computer science field, you would think that it would be easier to fill the needs. By the way, there is nothing wrong in going to hackers conventions to locate talented and possibly appropriate candidates.

    Is there something “subversive” that would keep mainstream computer engineers from this field of security? Wouldn’t people who build these “structures” appreciative of the need to secure them and prevent intrusion.

    • My guess is some significant part of the talent is working on the dark side
      already ( attacking foreign installation, in Germany forex the US is the most
      prominent industrial spy around, though the US being “a friendly” it is not much
      talked about).

      General talent went for a career in banking or law, rewarding but unproductive
      for the capabilities of a nation.
      Increasing hurdles for imported intelligence does not help either.

      BAInvest: “Is there something “subversive” that would keep mainstream computer engineers from this field of security? Wouldn’t people who build these “structures” appreciative of the need to secure them and prevent intrusion.”

      Cubickle Hive Minds.
      These people don’t rise far enough in any hierarchie to impact decissions.
      Look into the Shuttle crashes to see the mechanics exposed.

      The mind fuck that “Intellectual Property” represents does not help to find useable solutions either.

  2. Boeing, as well as every company large and small, needs to be structured around cybersecurity.

    Whether it means going to “hacker conventions” to find pros or finding experts and training them in-house, it’s a requirement in all things business these days.

    Boeing does offer tuition assistance in their Learning Together Program. Here’s an article I found that talks a bit to that point. It’s geared toward six sigma but could be used in security as well:

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