Tech companies will soon be competing for talent with a new player in Silicon Valley: the Department of Homeland Security.
During a speech today at the security-focused RSA Conference in San Francisco, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that his department is opening a cybersecurity office in Silicon Valley.
And Johnson wasn't coy about why: he wants to tap into the Valley's minds.
"We want to convince the talented workforce to come to Washington," said Johnson. "The government doesn't have all the answers nor do we have all the talent...We need each other and we must work together. There are things government can do for you and there are things you can (help us do)."
Among the cybersecurity jobs Homeland Security is looking to fill is the role of top cop. Johnson said he's looking for an "all-star" to head DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC.
The department's move into Silicon Valley marks a recognition of the increasing threat of hacking and the importance of cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security, whose main mission has been counter-terrorism, has increasingly focused on cybersecurity, and with good reason: some of the biggest hacking attacks in history have happened in just the past couple of years, and experts warn there's no indication they'll be abating any time soon.
The systems of retailers like, creating millions of dollars in damages. Financial institutions .
And in November, hacking hit a new high when, one of the biggest names in Hollywood. The result was months of embarrassment as . The US Government responded, . Now, it appears, the DHS is taking some of its first steps in that direction.
"Counter-terrorism is the cornerstone of my department's mission," said Johnson, who added, "cybersecurity has become a mission of equal importance."
Johnson offered few specifics about the department's plans to beef up cybersecurity and how it might achieve that by setting up shop in the Valley; however, he emphasized the problems posed by encryption.
That doesn't mean the department is going to get too cozy with Silicon Valley companies. It still has trouble with the way tech firms have recently approached security. In particular,. That's not something the government is fond of, particularly federal officials who claim that making phones inaccessible could hurt police activity.
"Encryption is making it harder for your government to identify criminal activity," said Johnson.