The U.S. Cyber Challenge, an effort to ramp up the country’s training for in-demand cybersecurity professionals, is joining forces with an NSA-sponsored program to help students map out a career in the field.
The new partnership offers users the chance to prove their expertise through taking part in competitions — considered essential by many in the field who are dubious that existing cybersecurity qualifications accurately measure hands-on ability.
The NSA’s Day of Cyber website is open to anyone who registers and provides users an “opportunity to live a day in the life of six NSA professionals,” Kim Paradise told FedScoop. Paradise is Vice President of Partnerships at LifeJourney USA, the company whose “career exploration” technology runs the Day of Cyber platform.
The program which has been running a year, provides approximately two hours of content and is aimed at students ages 13 and up.
“The platform enables students to run cyber challenges and generate their Cyber resume,” said Paradise.
The NSA gets basic aggregate demographic information on registrants, she said — the state they live in and their age — but no personal information.
“It’s not designed … as a direct recruitment tool,” she said, but instead aims “to get students interested in the cyber field in general.”
And the site is not aimed only at youngsters, said Karen Evans, national director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge.
“I could be a veteran coming back [from deployment], I could be unemployed” and aiming to acquire new skills, she said. “The idea is to put an array of tools out there” that can help users map out a path to a cybersecurity career — and help potential employers looking for recruits.
One such employer has already signed up to be a part of the deal, she said: Cyber Adapt, and others were in talks about joining.
The U.S. Cyber Challenge brings to the table its tool, CyberCompEx, a social site which links aspiring cyber professionals with competitions and contests nationwide.
The competitions are key, explained Evans. “That’s the data point … That’s what the competitions do … It’s an outside validation of their actual performance” that potential employers can use.
Unlike the Day of Cyber, CyberCompEx does allow users to post their resumes and other details, so potential employers can find them.
“Industry is looking for people with specific skill sets,” she said. “Now [they] can say: Here’s this person, here’s their qualification, here’s how they’ve done in the competitions.”