And the winners of the Cyber Challenge are...

Top finishers among competitors from more than 150 high schools around the country won more than $6,000 in scholarships in this fall’s Cyber Foundation competition.

The online competition is a collaboration of the SANS Institute and the Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation as part of the U.S. Cyber Challenge to identify future cybersecurity professionals. Scholarships were awarded to the top five national finishers.

More significant than the performance of the winners is the fact that more than 2,000 students from 169 schools in 32 states and three territories participated, said Julie Peeler, director of the (ISC)2 Foundation.

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“That’s a good number of kids who are being exposed to cybersecurity, regardless of whether they go into the profession,” Peeler said. “We are at least educating a larger workforce overall to an understanding of cybersecurity issues.”

It also means that there are teachers in at least 169 schools who are aware of the importance of educating students on these issues.

The Cyber Foundation competitions are one part of a broader U.S. Cyber Challenge effort, which also includes summer camps for college, high school and younger students; the Cyber Patriot program run by the Air Force Association; and a number of other scholarship and training programs aimed at developing a future professional cybersecurity workforce. There also are training and competitive opportunities for professionals already in the workplace.

The top five finishers in the Cyber Foundation competition were:

  1. Gavy Aggarwal of Charter School of Wilmington, Del.
  2. Ryan Foster of the Polaris Career Center, Ohio.
  3. Andrey Kuklev of Huron High School in Michigan.
  4. Jade Mollard of Damascus High School in Maryland.
  5. Jeffrey Yuan of Mission San Jose High School in California.

They were awarded scholarships of $2,500, $1,500, $1,000, $750, and $500 respectively.

U.S. Cyber Challenge, which set a goal in 2009 of identifying and recruiting 10,000 people with the native skills needed for cybersecurity, grew out of the report on Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency, which was produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The report cited professional training and workforce development as a critical challenge in improving cybersecurity, with the demand for cybersecurity professionals expected to grow to 2.5 million new workers by 2015. Participants in the Cyber Challenge include CSIS, the Defense Department's Cyber Crime Center, the Air Force Association, SANS, and a number of universities and aerospace companies.

Although there is an immediate need for cybersecurity professionals, the Cyber Challenge program also is working to create long-term supply by identifying students with the required skills in high school and earlier. One of the high school efforts is an online program run by the Cyber Foundation. It includes three class modules on networking, operating systems and system administration. When students have completed the modules they take online quizzes and compete for scholarship awards.

The state winners and top scoring students per high school are listed on the USCC website.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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