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Cyber security camp aims to address a national issue

First State students are learning what it takes to face some of the 21st centuries biggest security threats.

Federal and state officials joined together at Wilmington University’s New Castle campus on Friday to congratulate the 4th graduating class of the United State Cyber Challenge Delaware Camp. 47 students from Delaware’s universities spent a week at the campus taking specialized cyber security classes from college teachers and cyber security experts. While the annual camp taught students valuable skills that improve their marketability, it also helped to identify students with the skills and dedication needed to fill the growing need of cyber security professionals.

The FBI has ranked cyber crime as the greatest threat to U.S. national security behind nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction. University of Delaware Professor of electrical and computer engineering Dr. Chase Cotton believes the deficit of cyber security professionals effects us on both and national and personal level.

“You’re entire life is on your cell phone, if it’s not it’s on your computer at home,” said Cotton. “It’s all about computers and programs and if they are not written properly, bad guys will get in and could do bad things to you. Cyber security is real about protecting those kinds of things.”

Even though the camp has continued to grow over the years, many state and federal officials are hoping for greater turn outs. According to Computerworld, there were 67,000 cyber security job openings last year alone while a study from Georgetown University estimates that there will be an additional 22,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) related jobs in Delaware in the next six years.

Alan Paller of the SANS Institute believes that the deficit of cyber security professionals is not a matter of training or intelligence, but a matter of brain structure.

“Only a few people, somewhere in the 10 to 20 percent range, have the brain wiring… to do (cyber security) well,” said Paller. “The whole reason for starting this program across the nation is to find those people who actually want to do it… and have the brain wiring to do it. Because if we don’t, it is an existential issue for the United States. We would have no defense against advanced cyber attacks.”

Cotton says that Delaware is one of the leading state helping to fill the cyber security void.

“This camp is just for Delaware, and we have almost the same number of attendees that the camp for the whole east coast created,” said Cotton. “If every state had a camp like this and they produced numbers per capita like we produce, we’d have a lot more people.”

The camp also included a job fair with major technology companies and government agencies as well as a capture the flag style competition where students had to protect their network from attacks in real life scenarios.