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Cybersecurity boot camp looks to help build workforce for growing field

Katie Peikes
Delaware Public Media
Cole Dilorenzo (left) and Krystian Bates use their devices in a game of capture the flag on Friday.

The need to find qualified people to fill cybersecurity jobs has institutions like Delaware State University hosting summer camps to boost technical skills. 

This week’s cybersecurity boot camp at DSU is a partnership with the U.S. Cyber Challenge. MarwanRasamny, chair of DSU’s computer information science department, said these camps are needed to help participants keep up with the ever-changing tech landscape.

"They’re getting training," Rasamny said. "So we're improving their skills in cybersecurity which is very much a needed skill in the country to secure the infrastructure. We're training these young students to actually go out there and help secure the nation." 

According to the State of Cybersecurity: Implications for 2016, 33 percent of survey respondents believe less than 25 percent of job applicants are qualified upon hire. About 27 percent believe 25 to 50 percent of all applicants are qualified. 

Hoping to counter these statistics, the USCC has been hosting cybersecurity boot camps in Delaware since 2010. This was DSU's first year hosting it.

Forty-two participants spent the week learning penetration testing, web application and other skills, then put them to the test in various challenges.  Friday, they worked in teams to solve puzzles and codes in a virtual capture the flag game. Among them was recent Delaware Technical Community College graduate Noah Andrews who has attended the camp for two years. 

"The training here is so intense," Andrews said. "They take SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security) courses that are a week long and condense them into a single day. We (had) a competition to test out our skills at the end of week."

Andrews said it has helped him develop a different mindset. He has learned how to better secure a WiFi network and dig deeper into cybersecurity. 

Individuals who wanted to attend cybersecurity boot camp first competed against each other online through Cyber Quest, said USCC National Director Karen Evans. They had to achieve a certain score to receive an invite to the camp. 

"As they work through the camp and get technical skills, they also get a set of soft skills that allow them to know they need to integrate into a team and that they're more productive in a team environment," Evans said. 

Evans, along with Rasamny, hope this camp helps build a workforce for cybersecurity — a growing field that struggles to find qualified applicants.