U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and U.S. Rep. John Carney with participants in the U.S. Cyber Challenge Delaware Camp 2012

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Future cybersleuths trained by experts as UD hosts U.S. Cyber Challenge Delaware Camp 2012

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12:27 p.m., July 20, 2012--According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cyber crime ranks as “the third greatest threat to national security,” after nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction. 

Yet employers across the nation are facing extreme shortages of cyber security experts with strong, hands-on technical skills. The shortage extends from the government to the U.S. defense industrial base, information systems contractors, utilities, telecommunications companies and most other segments of the critical infrastructure. 

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Last week, 30 students from area universities and high schools immersed themselves in a specialized cyber security training camp to learn how to foil cyber threat attempts, a move that may ultimately propel them into cyber security careers.

Coordinated by the Delaware Coordinating Council for U.S. Cyber Challenge, which includes representatives from Delaware Technical Community College, University of Delaware, Wilmington University and the Delaware Department of Technology and Information, the U.S. Cyber Challenge Delaware Camp graduated its third class on the UD campus Friday, July 13.

“The Internet is a critical part of most Americans’ everyday life and that’s a good thing, but unfortunately it also means that our economy and critical infrastructure are vulnerable to attacks by hackers. That’s where these bright students come in,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, who recognized the students, along with U.S. Congressman John Carney.

Students involved in the camp received training from world class experts on a range of topics, including penetration testing, wireless security, cyber ethics and digital forensics. A “capture-the-flag” competition at the end of the five-day camp tested the student’s newly learned skills. 

Winners of the competition were Team Shebang (named for a commonly known Linux sequence "#!"). Each team member received a $1,000 educational scholarship.

Team members included:

  • Hristo Asenov, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.
  • Alex Coffman, Wilmington University, Smyrna, Del.
  • Kevin Kaminski, University of Delaware, Wilmington, Del.
  • Scott Stevenson, Rowan University, Sparta, N.J.
  • Yingbo Wang, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.

This year, an onsite career fair provided participants key opportunities to learn about scholarship, internships and employment opportunities at major technology companies and government agencies. 

Parth Gadani, a 2012 Delmar High School graduate, called the experience a “jetpack on my back” that will propel him into college, while Hristo Asenov, a UD doctoral student studying computer and information sciences, said the “hands-on activities were important” and brought “greater knowledge” of the work ahead. 

But it was Alex Coffman, a second career student at Wilmington University, who summed it up best. Coffman called it a “phenomenal week” in which he gained many new skills for his employment toolbox – skills that may ultimately play a factor in a student’s marketability and job placement following graduation.

“All this week, these talented students have been getting a glimpse into the minds of the hackers and learning how to thwart their attacks. These camps serve as a way for us to help train and guide the future guardians of the Internet. I thank them for their hard work and urge them to consider government service both at the state and federal level as we work to protect against these Internet-based attacks,” concluded Sen. Carper.

Local program sponsors of the cyber camp at UD include Swain Techs, Advantech, L-3 Communications, Verizon Delaware, Bayhealth Medical Center and Wilmington University.

Article by Karen B. Roberts

Photo by Evan Krape

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