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U.S. intelligence officials concerned about cyber attack

A major cyber attack somewhere in the United States is becoming increasingly possible, top government intelligence officials said Thursday, warning that an assault on America's power grid system "represents the battleground for the future."

The officials, speaking at a special hearing on Capitol Hill, also said that although Al Qaeda has been diminished after nine years of the U.S. war on terror, more foreign groups have risen up, increasing concerns among U.S. authorities that one of them may eventually get their hands on a nuclear device.

"I don't think there's any question but that this is a real national security threat that we have to pay attention to," CIA Director Leon Panetta said of a cyber attack in this country. "The Internet, the cyber arena … this is a vastly growing area of information that can be used and abused in a number of ways."

With that in mind, he told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, "when it comes to national security, I think this represents the battleground for the future. I've often said that I think the potential for the next Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber attack."

Panetta said terrorists are determined to find a way to hack into the power grid system in the United States, which he said "brings down the financial system, brings down our government systems. You could paralyze this country."

He noted that extremists in Iran, Russia and China are developing "a significant capacity" to stage such an attack, and that "hundreds of thousands" of attempts are being made to sneak into national security networks.

"We've got to develop not only a defense against that," he said, "but we've got to put our assets in places where we can provide sufficient warning that these attacks are coming."

On the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said extremists are trying to gain control of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and "remain committed to obtaining all types of weapons of mass destruction."

James Clapper, director of the Office of National Intelligence, was asked to elaborate. All he would say was, "Our assessment is that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure. And that's probably all we should say about that in public."

The officials said that other terrorist chieftains in Yemen and around the Arabian Peninsula also want the weapons, and that their "intent remains high."

But they said the intelligence community in the U.S. remains committed as well.

"In dealing with terrorism, in dealing with Al Qaeda, and dealing with jihad," Panetta said, "we're going directly at them. And we try to do everything we can to make sure that we disable their leadership, disable their command and control, disable their operations."

Feb 14, 2011

Security Clearances FAQ

Security Clearance Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers related to US government-sponsored security clearances in accordance with the

National Industrial Security Program (NISP)


What is a security clearance?

A security clearance is a determination by the United States government that a person or company is

eligible for access to classified information. There are two types of clearances: Personnel Security

Clearances (PCL) and Facility Security Clearance (FCL). Government agencies that issue clearances often

refer to clearances as “eligibility for access.”


What is DISCO?

The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) is part of the Defense Security Service (DSS), an

agency of the Department of Defense (DoD). DISCO processes and adjudicates Personnel Clearances

(PCL) and Facility Clearances (FCL) for defense contractor personnel and defense contractor facilities. It is

one of eight Central Adjudication Facilities (CAF) within DoD.


What are the security clearance levels?

Security clearances can be issued by many United States government agencies, including the Department

of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department

of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency. DoE clearances include the “L,” and “Q” levels. DoD issues

more than 80% of all clearances. There are three levels of DoD security clearances:



Top Secret.


What type of information is requested on a security clearance application?

The application form requires personal identifying data, as well as information regarding residence,

education and employment history; family and associates; and foreign connections/travel. Additionally, it

asks for information about arrests, illegal drug involvement, financial delinquencies, mental health

counseling, alcohol counseling, military service, prior clearances, civil court actions, and subversive

activities. The number of years of information required on the form depends on the level of clearance involved. For instance, residence, education, and employment history for a Top Secret clearance requires

ten years of information, whereas a Secret clearance requires seven years.


How long does a clearance remain in effect?

Generally as long as cleared individuals remain employed by a cleared contractor and are reasonably

expected to require access to classified information, their personnel security clearance will remain in effect,

provided they comply with periodic reinvestigation requirements.


When is a clearance terminated?

A clearance is terminated when a person permanently leaves a position for which the clearance was

granted. Cleared individuals who no longer require access to classified information, but who remain

continuously employed by the same cleared contractor and do not anticipate future access can have their

clearances administratively downgraded or withdrawn until such time that they require access again,

provided their security investigation has not expired. Under such circumstances the clearance can be

administratively restored.


What do the terms “active,” “current” and “expired” mean?

People either have a clearance or they don’t have a clearance. The Personnel Security Investigation (PSI)

on which the clearance is based can be either “current” or “expired.” PSIs are current if they are not more

than five years old for a Top Secret clearance, 10 years old for a Secret clearance, or 15 years old for a

Confidential clearance. Generally, if the PSI is out-of-date (expired) or there has been a break-in-service of

two years or more, a person must be nominated for a new clearance and must complete a new application

in the same manner as a person who never had a clearance.


Can a clearance be reinstated after it has been terminated?

Yes. If a person previously had a clearance and the investigation is still current, the clearance can be

reinstated by the agency that originally granted the clearance or it can be accepted and granted by a

different agency, provided there hasn’t been a break-in-service of two years or more. This usually only

entails the submission of a new application and a favorable review of the application by the clearance

granting authority.


What is an interim security clearance?

An interim clearance (also known as “interim eligibility”) is based on the completion of minimum investigative

requirements and granted on a temporary basis, pending the completion of the full investigative

requirements for the final clearance. Interim Secret clearances can be issued rather quickly once the

clearance granting authority receives a properly completed application. Interim Top Secret clearances take

two or three months longer. Interim clearances can be denied, if unfavorable information is listed on the

application form or at any time unfavorable information is developed during the investigation. All applicants

are considered for interim clearances by the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office.

With some exceptions an interim clearance permits a person to have access to classified material at all

levels of classification up to the level of the clearance requested. Interim Secret clearances are not

sufficient for access to special categories of classified information, such as COMSEC, NATO, and Restricted Data. Interim Top Secret clearances are sufficient for access to COMSEC, NATO, and

Restricted Data at the Secret and Confidential levels only.


Getting a Clearance


Can I obtain a security clearance on my own?

No. You must be sponsored by a cleared contractor or a government entity. To be sponsored you must be

employed by a cleared contractor (or hired as a consultant) in a position that requires a clearance. As an

exception, a candidate for employment may be submitted for a clearance if the cleared contractor has made

a binding offer of employment and the candidate has accepted the offer. Both the offer and acceptance

must be in writing. The offer of employment must indicate that employment will begin within 30 days of

receiving the clearance.


Can a Naturalized Citizen get a Personnel Clearance?

Yes. A naturalized citizen is treated the same as a native born US citizen.


Can non-US citizens obtain security clearances?

No. Non-US citizens can not obtain a security clearance; however, they may be granted a Limited Access

Authorization (LAA). LAAs are grant in those rare circumstances where the non-US citizen possesses

unique or unusual skill or expertise that is urgently needed to support a specific US Government contract

involving access to specified classified information (no higher than Secret), and a cleared or clearable US

citizen is not readily available.

News Item Here

Oct 14, 2010

When to accept a New Job

Below are two lists that you can use for accepting a new job.

12 Steps for Accepting a New Job

1.      Accept a position with a firm doing what you want.

2.      Accept a position doing what you enjoy; or least find intellectually and emotionally challenging.

3.      Accept a position after doing your due diligence: about the company, space, product, management, competitors, market, etc.

4.      Accept a position that you can emotionally accept when you are alone, in your car, with the radio off and when you are stuck at an airport at 1:00AM.

5.      Accept a position with a base and total compensation that will make you feel comfortable; but remember the mortgage company does not take promissory notes.

6.      Accept a position working with a client base that you can respect.

7.      Accept a position that will allow you each day that sense of personal success.

8.      Accept a position that allows for personal and professional growth.

9.      Accept a position that will allow you to go to work each day with a sense of urgency.

10.   Accept a position that may give you a sense of fulfillment!

11.   Accept a position that your "extended family,” friends, and potential clients can and will support and accept.

12.   Accept a position knowing that most careers now are series of part-time jobs.

Decision to Accept New Opportunity

To minimize your risk, the new opportunity must, or at least should meet as many of the 12 criteria above and below as is possible. 

THE FIVE - Accepting a Position

1.      Must present a real opportunity, for personal and professional growth, increased income, career expanding experiences, industry exposure, or new skills.

2.      Must have "good chemistry" with the other people in the firm, especially, managers, executives, and client base. All the talk on our website and in this book about risk/reward, accomplishments, competencies and potentials are merely a mechanism to get you in front of a Hiring Authority (HA). Chemistry is what gets you in a position of making a decision. As we have said above you can have a demonstrable affect on chemistry, if you prepare properly.

3.      This next statement has two meanings. One is the company's product; the other is you as the product. Product... Must have a product that works, that you can respect and that is or could be needed in the market place. Not the promise of a product, but an actual product in the "can."

4.      Must have ability to promise a good income: base, "at plan", options, vacations, trips, bennies, etc.

5.      You must fit in with the management style of the firm: micro, macro, laissez faire and other.

Deal Breakers:
When thinking of what will break a “deal” here are some thoughts to contemplate.

The "Deal Breakers" (after base salary issues) when negotiating an offer package are:

  • Inadequate Performance Bonuses
  • Overly Aggressive and Unrealistic Goals or Quotas
  • Inadequate Paid Relocation offer
  • Skimpy Vacation Benefits
  • Lack of Severance Package, Guaranteed
  • Vague or Confusing Contract Language
  • Lack of Interesting Stock/Equity Program
  • Missing Retention Bonus
  • Lack of or Inadequate Signing Bonus
  • Non Determined Review Period Length
  • Inadequate Benefit Program
  • Poorly organized or ineffectual Office Staff
  • Lack of obvious Support Staff
  • Poor Advertising Peripherals
  • Inadequate Reception During Interview Cycle
  • Timeliness of Interview Cycle
  • Poor Communications Between Departments
  • Poor product reputation
  • Limited market share

May 03, 2010

Intelligence Community (IC) hiring

Organized under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Intelligence Community (IC) is the umbrella organization for such agencies as the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. Some have overlapping, confidential missions, while others have very distinctive, specific roles to play in safeguarding the nation.

With that in mind, how does the top human capital management official for the IC plan ahead to recruit and retain the best people for some of the most important jobs in the government?

Dr. Ron Sanders, the Chief Human Capital Officer with the Intelligence Community, recently told the HCMF (Human Capital Management Federal) 2009 conference that, in his agency, it's important to do long-term workforce planning based on two factors:

  • The reality that they budget ahead in longer than the usual five-year chunks;
  • A "crystal ball" projection of the world the IC will be dealing with during those five years.

And so it was that he gave conference attendees a "non-classified" version of workforce planning and risk assessment at the IC for the years 2011 to 2015.

"The topline each year is declassified, but the five-year budget is not," he explained. "We do look far ahead - we have to, given the role technology plays, the influence that the external environment plays in our mission."

Sanders explained that, for purposes of discussion, he is allowed to say that the unclassified employee headcount of the Intelligence Community is "about 100,000 people." Of that group, about 50% were hired in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He said that, like many of the human capital officials and professionals in the audience, the IC went through the "boom and bust" of hiring and firing and then re-hiring. In the case of the Intelligence Community, "we peaked in fiscal '89, '90, and '91, we declined by 40% in the intervening years, we were gutted, and we have been in 'recovery' since we bottomed out in fiscal year 2001."

From here, Sanders ticked off some of the major "talking points" from the Intelligence Community's workforce analysis exercise, global factors that he said will influence the kind of people his agency will need in the next five years and beyond:

  • "We're still going to be the major superpower in the world of 2011 through 2015, but you're going to see the emergence of regional powers. We'll still have the biggest stick, but we won't have the only stick."
  • "We likely won't be the dominant economy in the world. We made these assumptions a year ago (prior to last fall's economic meltdown), and we had no idea how quickly that would come true."
  • "Our demographers talk about an 'arc of instability' that goes across Africa, and Southwest Asia, and the Middle East. That 'arc of instability,' brought on by food shortages, water shortages, climate changes, will also spill over into the Western Hemisphere."
  • "Finally, technology will change everything. We talk about 'two-edged technologies,' where something that could be of the greatest benefit to mankind can also be a weapon of mass destruction."

Turning to the implications of all those factors on medium-term workforce planning, Sanders's analysis suggests that in the future multiple federal agencies will be increasingly likely to deliver services of all sorts to citizens, and on behalf of citizens, suggesting the need for nimble, versatile staff, for whom collaboration is second-nature. In turn, he said, that also suggests the need for additional "out of the box" thinking when it comes to recruitment.

For example, he talked about "moving our recruitment upstream," a process he describes as "pre-employment." For critical, scarce skills like languages, and cybersecurity, he said, "we give grants to 21 schools to develop curricula that support our mission." He added he also has the ability to grant scholarships to students pursuing those majors, spending several million dollars each year on sophomores and juniors in exchange for a work commitment when they graduate.

Feb 12, 2010

Contact Us

550 N. Reo Street Suite 101
Tampa, Florida
Phone 813.286.2000
Fax 813.287.1660

550 n. reo street, suite 101 tampa, florida 33609
phone 813.286.2000 fax 813.287.1660