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Source: US Department of Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its sixth CyberForce Competition™ will take place on November 14, 2020. The event, which challenges college students to compete in a realistic cybersecurity defense exercise, will be held virtually this year.

Argonne National Laboratory, which hosted the first-ever CyberForce Competition™ in 2016, manages the competition on behalf of DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). Other laboratories joining this year’s event are Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory.

Given the virtual format, individuals rather than teams will represent their respective academic institutions in this year’s CyberForce Competition™. As in previous events, competitors will defend cyber systems of simulated critical infrastructure against threats modeled on those faced by the energy sector today. This year, the scenario involves a wind energy company in charge of over 20,000 megawatts of electricity generation that has been experiencing abnormal network activity.

“The U.S. energy sector is under constant threat of cyberattacks,” said Mark Wesley Menezes, Deputy Secretary of Energy.  “The CyberForce Competition™ is unique in that it trains the next generation of cyber professionals on defending the energy infrastructure while also maintaining usability of the systems.”     

“In 2020’s CyberForce Competition™, DOE will provide students a real-world cyber threat scenario to test and grow their technical skills,” said Alexander Gates, Senior Advisor to DOE’s CESER. “The competition is a key element of our efforts to build this workforce of the future as a strategic asset that protects the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life.”

Approximately 400 students from accredited U.S. institutions will be selected to participate by random lottery. The competition supports the personal growth of participants by offering virtual interactions with seasoned industry practitioners and mapping performance to measurable standards so competitors can quantify their strengths, using National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education standards.

CyberForce is part of DOE CESER’s efforts to support the President’s Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce. The American cybersecurity workforce must grow 62 percent—or nearly 500,000 professionals—to fill the current skills gap, according to the trade organization (ISC) 2. The need for talented cybersecurity experts is acute and growing as our adversaries continue to weaponize the cyber domain for political and monetary gain and seek to hold our critical infrastructure at risk.

Alongside DOE CESER, the competition is co-funded by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, and Office of Science.

For more information about the CyberForce Competition, visit https://cyberforcecompetition.com/.

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