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Jobs report shows US lacks cybersecurity experts as threat of Russian attack looms

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WASHINGTON (TND) — Russia says it’s deciding how to respond to the United States cutting off their energy imports, accusing the U.S. of declaring “economic war.”

Now, top U.S. intelligence officials warn that cyberattacks could be coming for American businesses and critical infrastructure and the latest jobs numbers show the private sector may not be able to handle the threat.

“We’re very, very focused on ransomware actors,” Gen. Paul Nakason with the National Security Agency.

U.S. intelligence says Russia may use malware to retaliate against the West for imposing crippling economic sanctions. For months, the Biden administration has been urging companies to be on alert and the Federal Bureau of Investigation says its agents are ready to assist the private sector if they get hit.

“They can have a technically trained agent at the doorstep of any company that’s victimized within about an hour anywhere in the country,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

But companies are struggling to hire cybersecurity professionals to protect them in the first place. Experts say this is where the labor shortage may become a national security issue.

According to the labor analytics firm EMSI Burning Glass, for every 10 open cybersecurity jobs, there are fewer than seven qualified people looking for work.

“With the recent geopolitical tensions, we’re seeing evidence that that demand growth is ramping up even further,” said Will Markow, the Vice President of Applied Research with EMSI.

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday indicates the labor shortage — across all sectors — isn’t improving.

By the end of January, there were 11.3 million open jobs. In February, only 6.3 million people were looking for work.

There doesn’t appear to be a quick solution to filling cybersecurity jobs and there’s no time to waste.

The FBI says what’s even more dangerous is that Russia isn’t very good at sticking to its target.

“The reality is they’ve shown a history of not being able to, kind of, manage the effects of it as well as they intend even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, which I tend not to,” Wray said.

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The threat of cyberattacks, direct or inadvertent, is keeping employers on high alert as they scramble for staff to keep up their defenses.

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