Idaho Needs A Trained Workforce To Stay Ahead In Cybersecurity

Jan 10, 2017

Idaho Governor Butch Otter addressed lawmakers on Monday with his State of the State. He covered traditional topics, such as education, healthcare and public lands, but also spent time talking about cutting-edge technology. 

Coming out of the presidential election, cybersecurity been an issue that’s of great national concern. In his annual state address, Governor Butch Otter called it one of Idaho’s most complex challenges.

He specifically addressed a security breach last August of a licensing website used by Idaho Fish and Game.

“We got off lucky last time," Otter said. "Cyber-crime, and even cyber-warfare, are very real and growing threats. The next hack here in Idaho could target more critical infrastructure, including our electrical grid.”

As a defense against that threat, Governor Otter hoped the state legislature would further invest in cybersecurity research. And he had a project in mind.

“The State Board of Education, and the Idaho National Lab, and our universities are working to finance and build two world-class research facilities,” Otter said.

Amy Lientz, an executive with Idaho National Laboratory, explained what Governor Otter was referring to: the work they do with their national Homeland Security Directorate.

"It’s been a really growing part of the business that we have at Idaho National Lab," Lientz says.

Despite these growth trends, though, there is a problem: labor.

"It’s probably about $400 million worth of work a year," says Lientz. “And as you can imagine, as we’re growing, it’s really difficult to find the people that we need. We hired over 500 people last year, so we want to do that with Idaho institutions.”

INL has been in the business of cybersecurity for more than a decade. According to Lientz, Idaho is cutting-edge. It just needs a trained workforce to keep it that way.

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