Government Seeks Technology 'Geeks' Through Cyber Challenge

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) announced  a new initiative entitled the U.S. Cyber Security Challenge. With participation from the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center, the Air Force Association and the SANS Institute, 10,000 tech-savvy high school and college students will compete through a variety of exercises, including live competitions, that challenge their cyber defense skills and overall cyber knowledge.  Promising cyber ‘whiz kids’ will be asked to participate in ‘cyber camps’ at selected universities and finalists will be rewarded with elite internships at federal agencies and prominent corporations. 

The announcement comes after a recent Booz Allen Hamilton report with the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization, that accuses the U.S. government of causing the country to fall behind in cybersecurity because of lack of competitive  job opportunities for cybersecurity experts.  Both China and North Korea have reportedly created similar programs to train government cyber experts and ‘cyber warriors’. The initiative also comes after multiple distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) on the U.S. and South Korea over the July 4th holiday. 

Specifically, the cyber competition is broken up into three different competitions, each emphasizing important cyber security knowledge. Participants of  the Air Force’s CyberPatriot Defense Competition must solve the problem of securiting a corperate network from cyber attacks.  The Department of Defense’s Cyber Crime Center Digital Forensics Competition focuses on an individuals cyber analysis and forensic capability. The SANS Institute’s NetWars Capture the Flag competitors must be able to identify cyber vulnerabilities in computer networks.

Alan Paller, director of the SANS Institute and leader of the U.S. Cybersecurity Challenge believes the initiative is greatly needed to keep up with our nations increase reliance on technology and to keep pace with the rest of the world.”This is one of the few good news stories in security,” said Paller. “A radical shortage of skilled cyber guardians and cyber warriors is making the United States unable to adequately defend our systems and unable to project power effectively in cyber space. [These] competitions will enable young people with the aptitude and interest in cybersecurity to showcase their talent and also offer pathways into very cool jobs,” stated Paller.

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