Press release from Brookdale Community College

Eighty men and women of various ages and backgrounds will compete in a face-to-face competition at Brookdale Community College on March 22, for a chance to train for a career in cybersecurity at the New Jersey Cyber Aces Academy at Brookdale.

The 2014 New Jersey Governor’s Cyber Aces State Championship will take place from 7:30 am to 5 pm, inside the Warner Student Life Center on the Lincroft campus. Top scorers will be invited to apply for a spot in the second academy cohort.

The state championship is organized by Cyber Aces, a national non-profit organization working to discover and develop talent and build pathways to critical cybersecurity jobs.

Competing are high scorers from among the 950 registrants who signed up for preliminary testing, which began last fall. Testing consisted of a series of on-line tutorials and training modules.  The eighty invited to Saturday’s statewide challenge include high school and college students, veterans, active members of the military, job seekers and career changers.

“One need simply to turn on the evening news to see evidence of the growing menace of cybercrime,” said Dr. Maureen Murphy, president of Brookdale Community College. “We are excited to be at the national forefront in helping find and train talented people to protect us from this personal and national threat.”

Similar to last year, competitors will engage in NetWars, a hands-on interactive learning environment used by the U.S. Military, government agencies and commercial companies to evaluate and train their people. This year’s program will include a panel on ethics. Discussion will center on the ethical issues that go along with possessing an in-depth knowledge of cybercrime. On hand to help and answer questions will be the 12 competitors from last year who were selected for the inaugural academy cohort.

The academy recruiting and training program, the first of its kind in the country, began at Brookdale in fall 2012 in response to a national demand for well-trained individuals with significant hands-on cybersecurity skills. It is funded through a two-year $300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. The program resulted from a collaboration among the college, Counter Hack Challenges, the SANS Institute, the Cyber Aces Foundation and the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education.

During the past year, the program has become a national model, with a least six states replicating the program this year and nearly a half dozen more next year.

Distinguishing the academy training is the emphasis on hands-on skills, as opposed to policymaking or theory. The focus is on preparing workers who can do such things as test computer systems and networks for vulnerabilities and secure them, investigate cybercrimes and remediate the resulting damage, or quickly regain control of a power grid should it be compromised. Students are involved in accelerated programs in advanced forensics, penetration testing and secure configuration.

Students in the inaugural academy cohort are expected to complete studies by this summer. At that time, top performers will move on to residency programs with government agencies and businesses. There they will sharpen their skills in real life situations working with cybersecurity pros in the field.