By Meredith Hegg
14 August 2009
Computer security engineer Alan Paller recalls how the Soviet Union's
1957 launch of Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, spurred
the U.S. government to accelerate its lagging space technology program.
Now Paller, research director at an educational company called the SANS
Institute, is leading the campaign to bring that kind of energy to
defending cyberspace from assault by pranksters, thieves, spies and
"The Cyber Challenge is a national program, not unlike the response to
the Sputnik challenge in the late fifties, where the U.S. found itself
no longer ahead," Paller says. "Now, it's no longer ahead in cyber
security and this is the project to find the talent and nurture it so
that we will surge back into the lead."
In addition to training camps, scholarships, and internships, the U.S.
Cyber Challenge includes three talent-search competitions. Paller
explains that the United States is not the first country to do this kind
"China, for example, has had an annual competition in every military
district in the country for the last five years," he says. "The winner
in Chengdu. for example, in 2005, turned out to be the person that the
Department of Defense found deeply inside the Pentagon [computer
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