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PNS Daily Newscast - October 20, 2017 


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High School Contest Could Turn Hackers Into Cyber-Security Experts

Could teens be the key to cracking the cyber attacks that expose personal information and sometimes shut down entire systems? (Pixabay)
Could teens be the key to cracking the cyber attacks that expose personal information and sometimes shut down entire systems? (Pixabay)
August 2, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. - In response to more cyber attacks, an online contest is spotting talent among high-school students in Virginia and other states.

Seven states have entered a cyber training partnership with the SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security Institute (SANS). Thousands of high school juniors and seniors will be competing for $650,000 in scholarships.

Alan Paller, SANS director of research, said the students will be playing a game called CyberStart, but the importance of the outcome is quite serious.

"The lack of expertise that we're facing right now is enabling attackers to break into organizations with impunity," he said, "and, where they used to just steal data, it's shutting them down."

Paller said the cyber security career field holds great promise for youth because the jobs aren't going to be outsourced and the cyber attackers aren't going to go away. Teens with a strong knowledge of operating systems, programming and networking have an opportunity to help their state and country, he said.

Paller said the game SANS is utilizing currently is used by adults in the field who have found it's sometimes more valuable than an expert instructor because the problems they're facing are ever-evolving.

"They can't just use rote methods because the bad guys are changing all the time," he said. "So, the game gives them the ability to test and develop their discovery skills."

Paller said the threat of cyber attacks is just as real anywhere in the country. Power systems and hospitals are just a couple of examples of vital resources that are the focus of attackers.

Registration for CyberStart will remain open through Friday at us.joincyberstart.com.

More information is online at sans.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA