At a recent awards ceremony held in Arlington, Va., to recognize the winners of a cyber attack/defense competition, Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger reflected how during his tenure in higher education, nothing  has changed education, and many other aspects of our world, as radically as the information revolution. 

"As control over technology moves more and more into the hands of users, we are facing a continuing onslaught of viruses, worms and spyware/adware programs; of phishing and pharming scams; of trojans, keyloggers, and spybots as well as the ubiquitous spam -- and who knows what else that we haven’t even named yet," said Steger. "We may fend off many of their attempts, but we recognize that they’re going to keep trying. For criminals and cyber terrorists, the rewards are high, and so the risk for us is exceptionally high."

The virtual "capture the flag" competition, held at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, and the award ceremony that followed capped off a four-day U.S. Cyber Challenge East Coast Cyber Summer Camp hosted by the U.S. Cyber Challenge in partnership with Virginia Tech and  Booz Allen Hamilton. 

The U.S. Cyber Challenge also held summer camps at the University of Delaware and in southern California at Cal-Poly Ponoma. A camp will be held in northern California at San Jose State University in August.

Camp curriculum, designed by Randy Marchany, director of Virginia Tech’s Information Technology Security Laboratory, included in-depth instruction and workshops on a range of topics, including intrusion detection, packet crafting, forensics, exploit writing, windows security, Linux security, wireless Bluetooth, and website app pen testing. A SANS instructor himself, Marchany was instrumental in finding SANS instructors to develop and teach the courses and he created the teaching assistant structure as a way to audition and recruit instructors for future camps.

The mission of the U.S. Cyber Challenge is to significantly reduce the shortage in the cyber work force by serving as the premier program to identify, attract, recruit, and place the next generation of cyber security professionals. The goal is to find 10,000 of America's best and brightest to fill the ranks of cyber security professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.

More than 50 individuals – ranging in age from 18 to 55 – attended the East Coast cyber camp in Virginia. Attendees to the invitation-only camps were selected based in part on their scores from Cyber Quests, an online competition offered through the U.S. Cyber Challenge in April that drew over a thousand participants from approximately 400 schools nationwide. Cyber camp invitations were also extended to individuals who demonstrated proficiency in other U.S. Cyber Challenge competitions, such as the Cyber Foundations, CyberPatriot, NetWars, and DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge. 

For the competition, camp participants were assigned into teams of three to five members to capture files, each of which was assigned a numerical score. David Berg of Illinois; Robert Nunley of Florida; and Zachary Wisman of Pennsylvania emerged as the highest scoring team at the Virginia camp and were presented $1,000 scholarships from ISC(2) at the award ceremony.

“Your interests and talents are so vital, today and into the future,” Steger told the group during the award ceremony. “That is why Virginia Tech is proud to have hosted this regional camp and why U.S. Cyber Challenge holds these events. We share a desire to significantly reduce a shortage in the cyber work force by identifying, educating, and preparing  future generations of cyber security professionals."

In addition to Steger, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (via video); Charles Clancy, director of the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech; Commonwealth Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey; and George Schu, senior vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton, also spoke at the award ceremony.

During the four day camp, Duffey joined Ernest McDuffie, lead for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Karen Evans, national director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge in hosting a roundtable discussion featuring national experts from government, technology, and academia to examine the critical gap in the cyber security work force and identify opportunities for closing the gap through creative partnerships and increased focus on education.

A career fair for camp attendees was also held at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington. 



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