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There is a shortage of talented computer security experts in the United States, making it difficult to protect corporate and government networks at a time when attacks are on the rise.

That is what Symantec Corp. Chief Executive Enrique Salem said Reuters Media and Technology Summit in New York. In an effort to boost the talent pool, Salem’s company is working with the U.S. military, other government agencies and universities to help develop new programs to train security professionals.

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“We don’t have enough security professionals and that’s a big issue. What I would tell you is it’s going to be a bigger issue from a national security perspective than people realize,” he said.

Jeff Moss, a hacking expert who sits on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council, said it was difficult to persuade talented people with technical skills to enter the field because it can be a thankless task.

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“If you really look at security, it’s like trying to prove a negative. If you do security well, nobody comes and says ‘good job.’ You only get called when things go wrong.”

The warnings come at a time when the security industry is under fire for failing to detect increasingly sophisticated pieces of malicious software designed for financial fraud and espionage and failing to prevent the theft of valuable data.

Moss, who goes by the hacker name “Dark Tangent,” said he sees no end to the labor shortage.

“None of the projections look positive,” said Moss, who serves as chief security officer for ICANN, a group that helps run some of the Internet’s infrastructure. “The numbers I’ve seen look like shortages in the 20,000s to 40,000s for years to come.”

In order to boost the workforce, the National Security Agency is setting up a new cyber-ops program at select universities to expand U.S. cyber expertise needed for secret intelligence operations against computer networks of adversaries. The cyber-ops curriculum should provide the basic education for jobs in intelligence, military and law enforcement.

U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp Monday launched the first undergraduate honors program in cyber security with the University of Maryland to help train more workers for the burgeoning field.

Moss, who founded the Defcon and Black Hat hacking conferences held in Las Vegas each summer, said that U.S. government agencies are so desperate to fill positions that they are poaching security experts from private firms.

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