By Andy Greenberg
High school hackers, crackers and digital deviants: Uncle Sam wants you.
As part of a government information security review released as early as
Friday, White House interim cybersecurity chief Melissa Hathaway likely
will mention a new military-funded program aimed at leveraging an
untapped resource: the U.S.' population of geeky high school and college
The so-called Cyber Challenge, which will be officially announced later
this month, will create three new national competitions for high school
and college students intended to foster a young generation of
cybersecurity researchers. The contests will test skills applicable to
both government and private industry: attacking and defending digital
targets, stealing data, and tracing how others have stolen it.
The competitions, as planned, go far beyond mere academics. The Air
Force will run a so-called Cyber Patriot competition focused on network
defense, fending off a "Red Team" of hackers attempting to steal data
from the participants' systems. The Department of Defense's Cyber Crime
Center will expand its Digital Forensics Challenge, a program it has run
since 2006, to include high school and college participants, tasking
them with problems like tracing digital intrusions and reconstructing
incomplete data sources.