This week, the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month event organizers—DHS and the National Cyber Security Alliance—have selected the theme: The Internet Wants YOU: Consider a Career in Cybersecurity.
At S&T, we actively are engaged in several programs to encourage the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. Among those programs are competitions that spur within students an interest in cybersecurity as their career choice and partnering with the Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative (CSVI), a DHS Secretary’s Honor Program.
Finding qualified cybersecurity professionals is a global challenge. A 2017 survey of nearly 20,000 cybersecurity professionals in 170 countries found that the field’s workforce gap will reach 1.8 million by 2022, a 20 percent increase over the same study’s forecast made just two years ago. Another study conducted for an information technology industry group revealed 66 percent of respondents said there aren’t enough cybersecurity workers in their organizations to meet current challenges.
To help fill this workforce gap, S&T’s Cyber Security Division (CSD) has supported two cybersecurity competitions aimed at college students: the Collegiate Cyber Defense Challenge (CCDC) and U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC).
The CCDC began in 2005 with five schools and now boasts 230 schools and nearly 6,000 students. It aspires to establish an operational, sustainable cyber-education program and avenue for technology transition. During the national tiered team-based competition, student teams assume administrative and protective duties for a small company network. Winners of the 10 regional competitions advance to the finals to compete for the national championship.
CSD’s support helps develop the technical environment as well as the competition’s scenario. Also, emerging technologies and solutions that are developed by CSD’s researcher partners are used in the competitions.
The USCC’s goal is to reduce the cyber workforce shortage by identifying, attracting, recruiting and placing 10,000 new cybersecurity professionals. Each year, USCC conducts its Summer Cyber Camps for students. During this year’s Cyber Camp, high school and college students attended a five-day, intensive boot camp with challenging cybersecurity and then competed in a virtual “Capture-the-Flag” competition to demonstrate their cybersecurity abilities. The winning team of Marco Alonzo, Emilio Herrera, Daniel Limanowski and Shannon Linares were awarded USCC-sponsored scholarships.
Last year, CSD initiated a partnership with CSVI, a highly competitive program for exceptional undergraduate and graduate students pursuing studies in cybersecurity who are selected based on their academic performance, experience and other criteria.
During the 10-week program, the selected students learn about the DHS cybersecurity mission, complete hands-on cybersecurity work and build technical experience. Students also participate in mentoring and professional-development activities with managers and senior leaders from the U.S. Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection and other DHS components.
If you know a student interested in cybersecurity careers, encourage them to do two things:
- Apply for the CSVI program. If accepted, they’ll be on the fast track to a career in cybersecurity. The 2018 program application period opens early next year.
- Get involved with CCDC and USCC. These competitions will give them a leg up on their peers for cybersecurity positions.
By sharing information about these beneficial programs, you’ll help us build the nation’s cybersecurity talent pipeline.