“It’s mostly attack to start out with,” says Ed Skoudis, cofounder of security firm InGuardians and an advisor to the SANS Institute for the game. The result is a fair simulation of attack and defense in cyberspace, Skoudis asserts. Participants try to exploit weaknesses in their rivals’ systems and then defend the systems they compromised from the other attackers.
A third competition aims to develop high-school students’ knowledge of network defense. The CyberPatriot High School Cyber Defense Competition, which is in its second year, teaches students the difficulty of protecting computer networks against attacks. In the first contest, eight teams competed against each other. This year, 266 schools have signed up, says Gregory White, an associate professor with the University of Texas at San Antonio and the director of the university’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, which runs the program along with the Air Force Association.
Earlier this week, the Partnership for Public Service and consultants at Booz Allen Hamilton released a report concluding that the lack of cybersecurity skills in the federal workforce leaves the “potential for major vulnerabilities for our national security.” The Obama administration, too, in its recently released Cyberspace Policy Review, flagged the shortage of well-educated cybersecurity professionals as a problem of national importance.
Aside from potentially funding the forensics challenge, the federal government has not announced funding for the U.S. Cyber Challenge. However, companies such as Google and state governments such as Delaware’s have already expressed interest in taking part.”If you wait for a committee to do something, you will be waiting for a long time,” White says. “[Government officials] seem to be interested, but that has not translated to funding.”