Cal Poly Pomona and the California Office of Information Security recently announced the 22 winners of a challenging statewide competition to help identify Californians with a special talent for cybersecurity.
These individuals will attend U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) California Cyber Camp from July 19 through July 23 at Cal Poly Pomona with all expenses paid. The camp will feature workshops, team competitions and other training to help the participants become America’s top guns in the cybersecurity battle to protect the nation from unfriendly individuals, groups and countries.
“The market landscape is changing and there is a need for people to defend cyberspace,” says Cal Poly Pomona student Joshua Chin. “From my freshman year in high school, I sought to find a way to break into the computer security world and to develop valuable skills to aid in my quest to defend cyberspace.”
Hundreds of people in California competed in the Security Treasure Hunt online competition in which they identified security flaws and vulnerabilities on a target online system. Those selected for the invitation-only camp were the top scorers.
The attendees in California’s inaugural camp run the gamut in age, residence and experience. Participants come from as far north as Chico and as far south as San Diego. Some have no formal training in cybersecurity while others have just begun their information technology careers. Some have been drawn to cybersecurity because they have been hacked and others are pursuing cybersecurity careers so they can positively impact people’s lives.
College of Business Administration Professor Dan Manson, who is organizing the event, says the camp will fill a void for many aspiring cybersecurity specialists.
“Many campers said they have not found adequate opportunities to develop skills needed to become a cybersecurity professional,” says Manson, who is also the director of the Center for Information Assurance. “Given the fact that we live in an age where threats such as online crime and cyber terrorism are very real, it is our responsibility to ensure that these students have the opportunity to learn from the best.”
Experts on the state and federal level agree that America is critically short of individuals capable of stopping threats to our information systems.
“As Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am acutely aware of the threat cyber security poses to our national and financial security,” says U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. “We must do all we can to raise public awareness and understanding of the cyber threat. We also need to be a step ahead of those who would do this nation harm. The California Cyber Challenge Camp is an opportunity to train the next generation of skilled cyber security practitioners and researchers to meet our country’s critical need.”
The camp is organized by the Center for Information Assurance in conjunction with the USCC and the California Office of Information Security. Other camps are being offered in Delaware and New York and more camps are expected to open in other states in the next few years.
For more information, go to http://californiacyberchallenge.org.
(Photo: Cal Poly Pomona team members at work during the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition at Cal Poly Pomona March 26, 2010.)