The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) calls for the promotion of a robust network and ecosystem of cybersecurity education, training and workforce development to achieve a digital economy enabled by a knowledgeable and skilled cybersecurity workforce. A critical element of a robust cybersecurity strategy is having the right personnel at every level to identify, build and staff the defenses and responses for the nation. Ensuring the nation has a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce is important to maintaining its critical infrastructure systems and networks and defending against cyberattacks. To fulfill these needs, DHS is funding the development of creative solutions in cybersecurity competitions to elevate the exposure of cybersecurity issues to primary and secondary school students.
The United States needs more cyber defenders…thousands more. However, attracting students to a computer science program is only one piece of the puzzle. The nation must address a host of other challenges it faces in creating cyber-defenders. To be effective, students need to obtain practical and real-world experience not only with current technologies, but with emerging technologies as well. Cybersecurity competitions are focused on the shortage of technically skilled people required to operate and support systems already deployed and also on educating young individuals who can design and create secure systems and deploy these sophisticated tools to prevent malicious acts.
Attracting students to a computer science program is only part of the challenge the nation faces in creating cyber-defenders. To be effective, students must obtain practical, real-world experience with current and emerging technologies.
CSD’s efforts in Cybersecurity Competitions also provide a platform through which other defensive technologies developed by CSD funding can be deployed and tested in an operational environment. The benefit to this approach is twofold: it provides valuable real-world use-data to the developers on the effectiveness of their technologies and it provides the next-generation workforce experience using cutting-edge tools they may use when they enter the cybersecurity workforce.
University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS): International Cyber Assessment and Defense Competition
Previously funded by CSD to develop the environment and scenarios for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC), UTSA recently was awarded funds to develop a virtualized platform and methodology that will support collaborative cyber competitions on a global scale. It also will design an international cyber assessment and defense competition and a system for submitting, vetting and distributing virtual machine targets.
Center for Internet Security (CIS): U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC)
The USCC seeks to create a pipeline through which talented youth will be discovered, guided and enabled to progress toward careers as technical cybersecurity experts. The goal is to deploy and test multiple talent competitions and talent development initiatives that enable high school and college students to develop and demonstrate their cyber-skills. USCC organizes multiple events for high school students throughout a year, including Cyber Foundations workshops and summer camps. Each camp features four days of intense instruction, culminating in a capture-the-flag-style competition.
Secure Decisions: Comic-Based Education and Evaluation (Comic-BEE)
Comic-BEE is a tool for educators, students, employers, subject matter experts and non-experts to teach or evaluate cybersecurity knowledge using branching, interactive stories. These branching stories— known as web comics—allow readers to make choices that determine a character’s actions and the story’s outcome. Readers can make decisions on topics related to cybersecurity and explore the consequences in the safe environment of a comic.