Security Experts:

NSA Awards Scholarships to Support Future Cyber Warriors

IT security talent is in high demand across government agencies and private companies, with a shortage of resources among the federal agencies that is creating a challenge in managing successful cybersecurity operations. Last year, the U.S. Cyber Command, which was scheduled to be “fully operational” by October 1st, missed its deadline, primarily due to the challenge of finding qualified personnel.

Cybersecurity Contests GrowingOver the past few years, several competitions and educational programs have put cybersecurity in the eyes of our nation’s youth, with the hopes of sparking interest, and nurturing young students into talented professionals charged with defending Government and Enterprise computer systems.

Today the National Security Agency (NSA) said it would fund college scholarships for the high school and college student winners of the upcoming Maryland Cyber Challenge & Conference (MDC3).

Being held for the first time, the Maryland Cyber Challenge & Conference will take place October 21-22 at the Baltimore Convention Center. It will give teams of high school students, college students, and professionals the opportunity to learn more about cybersecurity and develop practical skills for defending computers while competing for scholarships in a fun environment. The conference will feature keynote speakers, breakout sessions and cyber innovation exhibits for an audience of students, parents and professionals from academia, industry and government.

“We have an obligation to get the country’s youth more interested in math and science and to understand the importance of cyber security to ensure a larger and more diverse hiring pool in this field for the good of the country,” said John “Chris” Inglis, Deputy Director, NSA.

Each first-place winner of the high school and college team competitions will receive a $5,000 scholarship, and each member of the second-place high school and college teams will receive a $2,000 scholarship to support their higher education.

“Of necessity, cybersecurity professionals are discreet about their work. This event enables us to promote the industry and to excite young Marylanders about defending our nation’s cyber systems,” said Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “We’re delighted NSA has joined us in this effort and that the agency is committed to cultivating new talent and supporting the robust cyber industry in Maryland.”

MDC3 was created by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), in partnership with the Department of Business & Economic Development, the Tech Council of Maryland and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

“Cybersecurity is a challenge that affects every single industry in our nation’s economy, and we have a strong need to increase the young talent within this field,” said Larry Cox, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager. “We applaud NSA for this significant investment in the future of our national security by creating more educational opportunity for Maryland’s brightest and most-talented future cybersecurity professionals.”

Other similar initiatives include the “IT Security for the Next Generation – American cup 2012” conference, and the CyberPatriot high school cyber defense competition.

CyberPatriot, in its fourth phase, is the premiere national high school cyber defense competition created to inspire high school students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future. Last year the event had over 650 teams registered. This year registration has already passed 700 teams and is still growing.

IT Security for the Next Generation,” is an event put together through a partnership between Kaspersky Lab and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. The event is designed to bring together students, experts, scientists and researchers in a collaborative environment to present and discuss issues relating to cybercrime. The conference will take place within the NYU-Poly Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) November 10-11, 2011.

“‘IT Security for the Next Generation’ is a platform for future experts to share and to collaborate. It’s a venue where new ideas are born—ideas that will improve and shape the future of security,” said Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and CEO, Kaspersky Lab. “By partnering with NYU-Poly, we’re able to tap into the minds of the young researchers of tomorrow and foster communication and collaboration with the experts of today. We've had great international success and are excited for Kaspersky Lab to bring this program to North America's brightest academia.”

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.