Cyber security recruitment ramps up

    Uncle Sam wants to build an army to defend the nation from cyber attack by reaching out to computer whiz kids.

    Uncle Sam wants to build an army to defend the nation from cyber attack by reaching out to computer whiz kids.

    Listen:
    [audio: /delaware/090807tbcyber.mp3]

    The Center for Strategic and International Studies hopes to draw 10 thousand high school and college students to its recently launched U.S Cyber Challenge, an effort to steer tech-savvy kids toward cyber security careers through a series of competitions and camps that could lead to scholarships and internships.

    Delaware will play a role in the recruiting process. Wilmington University and the University of Delaware have been picked to host a regional cyber camp next summer.

    As the Chief Security Officer for Delaware’s Department of Technology and Information, Elayne Starkey sees first hand the hole the program hopes to fill.  “There’s definitely a gap between what we need and what we project we’ll need. This is a nationwide problem. We see ourselves falling behind other countries. We see a gap that has formed and without programs like this one, it’s going to continue to widen.” said Starkey.

    Wilmington University associate professor Mark Hufe believes the talent pool is there to fill the Cyber Challenge’s 10 thousand slots, but knows from personal experience tapping into that pool may be easier said than done.

    “I think the perception by young people has been that working in technology and computers isn’t cool” Hufe said. “My whole career has been in technology. I’ve got four kids and none of them want anything to do with technology. Dad so uncool. Dad such a nerd.”

    Starkey agrees, and believes reaching out a group already interested in cyber security, young hackers, is a good place to start. “That’s what this program is all about, is to take that natural curiosity and to direct it and foster it into ways that can protect the critical infrastructure, as opposed to them moving over kind of to the dark side.” Starkey said.

    The carrot, according to Hufe, is the opportunities the field offers.

    “There are these really cool jobs in companies ranging from agencies from within the government to companies like Google and the big banking systems.”

    Information on how to get involved in the U.S. Cyber Challenge can be found at www.csis.org/uscc.

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