CISO Trainings , Governance & Risk Management , Training & Security Leadership

Adapting Cybersecurity Contests as a Recruitment Tool

Mini-Challenges Seen as Way to Vet Qualifications of Job Candidates
Adapting Cybersecurity Contests as a Recruitment Tool
U.S. Cyber Challenge National Director Karen Evans

Cybersecurity competitions are being adapted so employers can use them to vet the know-how of prospective employees.

"A competition is the way to demonstrate that you actually have the abilities," says Karen Evans, national director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge.

The U.S. Cyber Challenge, working with business partners through its CyberCompEx social network portal, is formulating mini-cybersecurity challenges that can be used to test job applicants; it will pilot them in the coming months.

The U.S. Cyber Challenge was created in 2010 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, with private-sector support, including the SANS Institute. Through competitions and training camps, the U.S. Cyber Challenge aims to encourage mostly young people to consider careers in cybersecurity. Its competitions have involved teams that compete to accomplish a task, such as using hacking skills to gain access to a protected database. (Here's an ISMG-produced video of one such competition: Searching for the Good Hacker).

In an interview with Information Security Media Group (click on player beneath image to listen), Evans discusses:

  • How employers can tap databases of cybersecurity competitions to identify prospective employees; and
  • Plans to pilot mini-competitions that employers can use to evaluate the skills job candidates offer

A report published by the Council on Cybersecurity - now part of the Center for Internet Security, which operates the U.S. Cyber Challenge and the Multistate Information Sharing and Analysis Center - says many recruiters find competitions to be a good indicator of cybersecurity talent.

Evans has led the U.S. Cyber Challenge since its formation more than six years ago. She is the former administrator for e-government and information technology in the White House Office of Management and Budget, a position that today is known as the federal CIO. In her 28 years of federal government service, she served as the CIO of the Department of Energy. Before joining the Energy Department, Evans served as director of the Information Management Division with the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs.

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