Security Awareness Programs & Computer-Based Training

10K Future Cybersecurity Specialists Sought

U.S. Cybersecurity Challenge Aimed at High School, College Students Safeguarding government and the nation's critical IT infrastructure is a clear and current challenge that can't wait years to be resolved. Still, the need to develop specialists to protect our information assets will not disappear in the coming years; indeed, it likely will grow. Nurturing students in high school and college to develop cybersecurity skills is crucial to protect systems and networks that are becoming more important to our society with each passing year.

Recognizing that, a consortium of U.S. government and private groups on Monday announced the U.S. Cyber Challenge. Led by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) - the Washington think tank that produced the report Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency - the U.S. Cybersecurity Challenge seeks to identify 10,000 young Americans who have the skills and aptitude to fill the top ranks of IT security practitioners and researchers in future years.

According to a statement issued by the consortium, the challenge will nurture and develop their skills, give them access to advanced education and exercises, and where appropriate, allow them to be recognized by colleges and employers where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.

The program consists of three competitions:

  • CyberPatriot Defense Competition - an Air Force Association national high school cyber defense competition;
  • DC3 Digital Forensics Competition - a Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center competition focusing on cyber investigation and forensics; and
  • NetWars Capture the Flag Competition - A SANS Institute challenge testing mastery of vulnerabilities.

Here's what CSIS says about the program:

Promising candidates will be invited to attend regional cyber camps to be held at local colleges, where they will develop their skills more fully and participate in additional competitions.
Candidates who rise to the top in these regional programs will be invited to participate in live national challenges like those coordinated by the University of Texas at San Antonio, NYU Polytechnic and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Greatly promising candidates from these programs will have a leg up in competitions for scholarships to study advanced cybersecurity programs at professional development programs like those run by the SANS Institute or at colleges and graduate programs at participating schools.
The best of the candidates will be introduced to key federal agencies and corporations where the most advanced cybersecurity work is being done. Although no promises of employment can be made, these organizations are facing extreme shortages of security experts with extraordinary, hands-on technical skills, and these organizations are assisting in the design and operation of the U.S. Cyber Challenge because they look forward to finding additional candidates for their most challenging assignments.

Besides CSIS, the other members of the consortium include the Defense Department's Cyber Crime Center, Air Force Association, SANS Institute and several supporting universities and aerospace companies.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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