U.S. Cyber Challenge: A Contest to Recruit and Train Young Cybersecurity Combatants

July 27, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Federal agencies are facing a severe shortage of computer specialists, even as a growing wave of coordinated cyberattacks against the government poses potential national security risks. While President Barack Obama has declared cybersecurity a top priority, the White House so far has been unable to fill its new cyber coordinator position — a job regarded as critical. Today though, a consortium of government agencies, private industry, and academics are expected to announce plans for three competitions aimed at inspiring college students to learn the technical skills to become the future defenders of cyberspace and our nation’s computer networks.

Led by ther Center for Strategic and International Studies, with the SANS Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and several university and private-industry partners, the U.S. Cyber Challenge, will provide participants with competition, training, recognition and a chance to win scholarships.

The U.S. Cyber Challenge program includes three ongoing competitions:

  • The CyberPatriot Defense Competition, a national high school cyber defense competition run by the Air Force Association. It’s actually in its second year, but is being brought under the Cyber Challenge umbrella.
  • The DC3 Digital Forensics Competition, a DOD competition that focuses on cyber investigation and forensics. The DoD is especially interested in this, and is offering a $1 million prize to people who can find solutions to digital forensics problems that currently can’t be solved.
  • NetWars Capture the Flag Competition, a SANS Institute challenge, played across a network on a custom OS, and with the aim of penetrating the opponent’s net security and controlling key files on a server.

Promising candidates will be invited to attend regional “cyber camps” at local colleges, with the chance for scholarships to study cyber defense. The cream of the crop may be offered placements in corporations and federal agencies that deal with cyber warfare.

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