In the military's war on hackers, it's looking like reservists might be the best choice to protect the country from cyberattacks. That's because many reservists spend most of their time working as cybersecurity experts for top firms.
That real-world experience pays off, because it helps reservists adapt to changing trends in technology. Reservists have "obliterated" active-duty soldiers in recent cyber exercises.
This is a big deal because other countries' hackers are attacking the U.S. on a regular basis and stealing government and civilian information. It's happening more and more frequently. Click here to find out how to protect yourself if your data is taken.
It is the first time in the military's history that reserve members have more specialized skills than full-time soldiers. It's also forcing the government to look at how it is going to outfit new military cyberattack units.
At stake is a massive pot of money and thousands of military jobs for a critical mission that will be mostly shielded from budget cuts slamming nearly every other part of the force under sequestration.
The government is still trying to figure out how it wants to use reservists. U.S. Cyber Command is creating a group of 6,000 cyberwarriors to defend the government from attack and stage cyberattacks against enemies. The army said it prefers active- duty soldiers because they are more familiar with enemy computer systems. Early plans for CYBERCOM's teams call for 80% active-duty soldiers and 20% civilians.
“I don’t know the right mix, but I guarantee you it’s not 100 percent [active-duty] and zero [reserves],” said Arnold Punaro, chairman of the RFPB, a federal advisory group established by Congress.
Just like any new technology, it'll take the government a while to work out the kinks when it comes to cybersecurity. Until then, it will just have to experiment with a mix of reservists and active duty cyberwarriors until it finds out what works best.