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Immigration Solution to Cyberdefense

Posted on July 21 2010 9:00 am
Alex Nowrasteh is a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. His area of expertise is immigration policy.
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Even Time Magazine is worried

With a highly computerized and electronic based society, cyberdefense is a growing part of national security.  As was reported yesterday, many analysts believe there is a dearth of computer security specialists to fill vital roles.  As my colleague Wayne Crews at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) points out here, national defense threats are usually overstated and used as an excuse to increase executive branch power through an internet kill switch or pork barrel projects that create PhDs in cyber security and other defense related nonsense.

But if there is a threat, corporations and other market actors will rise to meet the challenge, all the government has to do is get out of the way.  James Gosler, a veteran cyber security specialist estimates that there are only about 1000 people with the necessary cyberdefense skills to meet any kind of threat.

Assuming that Gosler accurately assesses the threat (doubtful), what should the government do?  The government should allow highly skilled foreigners to move to the U.S.  Instead of wasting government money on sponsoring computer games for Americans or funding dubious PhD pork barrel programs, American corporations or the Department of Defense should be able to hire the best and the brightest from overseas.

China runs hacking competitions and generally encourages their youth to get involved in such systems.  The U.S. government should not follow the example of a country that is most famous for starving upwards of 20 million people in the last 50 years.  Instead the U.S. government should remove regulations that impede Americans from “arming” and protecting their property.  If that requires hiring foreigners to design security systems or defend against potential foreign or domestic cyber threats, so be it.

For the sake of protecting property rights and mitigating potential national security threats, there should be no restrictions on hiring highly skilled foreigners adept as cybersecurity.  In this way, like many others, expanding legal immigration makes Americans wealthier and safer.

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