The U.S. government on Monday launched a national talent search for high school and college students interested in working in cybersecurity.
With the U.S. Cyber Challenge the goal is to find 10,000 young Americans to be "cyber guardians and cyber warriors," according to a statement from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, which is sponsoring the event.
"Mostly now we have people (in government) writing policies and reports about security rather than people who can do it," said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute. "And we're getting killed."
The need for more security specialists in government has been acknowledged. President Obama said in May that the U.S. government "is not as prepared" as it should be to respond to disruptions caused by Internet attacks. And last week, a study from the Partnership for Public Service concluded that shortages in federal cybersecurity workers and a lack of leadership threaten national security.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to be a target of Internet attacks. The latest public incident involved a series of denial of service attacks the week of July 4 that temporarily took down commercial and government Web sites in the U.S. and South Korea.
There are three competitions that make up the U.S. Cyber Challenge: CyberPatriot network defense high school competition conducted by the Air Force Association; DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center; and NetWars, a vulnerability discovery and exploitation competition conducted by the SANS Institute.
Candidates with promising skills will be invited to attend regional camps at local colleges beginning next year. The top candidates will be hired by the National Security Agency, the FBI, Defense Department, US-CERT, and the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories.