Preparing the Next Generation -- Cyber Defense Competitions

  Back on February 15th, I attended the kickoff of an all-weekend event that really surprised me. Eastern Michigan University hosted their first Cyber Defense Competition.

 What is this all about? Basically a bunch of colleges (6 in this case) tried to hack into other college’s networks while defending their own. Don’t worry about the legal ramifications; it was all done in a lab with test equipment.

National Spelling Bee, move over …

In more formal terms, “The cyber defense competition allows institutions of higher education that offer information assurance or computer security curriculum to assess their students’ depth of understanding and competency in managing the challenges that are inherent in network security.” 

The host of the event even, Skip Lawver, who is head of Eastern Michigan University’s Information Assurance Program, has a podcast with more details on the event as well. On the opening night, we also had briefings from cyber experts from South America and Europe who discussed activities in their countries.

Why was this so cool? Well, these young cyber gurus were focused, dedicated, and smart. Pass the Mountain Dew, because there wasn’t much sleep going on either. I was impressed with how prepared and motivated these young men and women were.

This has now become a true national challenge, and the winners ultimately compete in Texas for the national championship.

Many companies, including the FBI, were recruiting for staff at the event.  This is truly the equivalent of baseball’s “Minor Leagues” for our government security programs, and the talent was impressive.

I encourage you to visit an event near your home town, or maybe even drive a few hours to attend one of these.  You can run a Google search for Cyber defense competition to learn more.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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