Researcher and publisher, Cybersecurity Ventures, recently predicted there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs to fill by 2025, roughly the same as the need at present. Defined another way, there’s enough demand for qualified cybersecurity talent that it would fill 50 NFL stadiums. So, the demand to fill these roles is stabilizing a bit but still remains. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to find and develop candidates with the right set of tools and capabilities for these roles.
One way is to use eSports, cyber games, and other types of competitions to help engage with the younger generation, using game mechanics and problem-solving skills that can overlap between playing competitive games and finding and solving cybersecurity challenges. One company, Katcy, a growth-hacking agency supporting tech and infosec business, sent out word recently they’re launching US Cyber Games Season II. Partnering with them on this initiative is the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Participants in the US Cyber Games program compete in capture the flag (CTF) and red team vs. blue team competitions, and they also can compete at the varsity level on the global stage.
We spoke in the past with Jessica Gulick, who is the US Cyber Games Commissioner and founder of PlayCyber by Katcy, about the role of esports and cyber games and how they overlap with cyber security work (and also helping to bring women opportunities to upskill and be able to join the workforce in security roles). In the interview, she noted the synergy between gaming and cybersecurity, which remains at least as true now as it did then:
Gamers live in a world of continuous discovery and trying new things. Esports in particular requires team skills, communication, and competitive behaviors – so does cybersecurity jobs. The main differences are being overcome slowly — cybersecurity is a boring sport because it lacks visualization. This is why I have reengaged. The market is ready for an evolution of cyber games. We are ready to move past boring, safe networks where we can safely hack things.Jessica Gulick, US Cyber Games Commissioner
Via the US Cyber Games program, which aims to help participants build “confidence, improv(e) skills, and becom(e) better prepared for careers in cybersecurity. Several events are lined up for this program that aims to fulfill these objectives include a:
Capture the flag (CTF) challenge
From July 1-July 10, 2022, competitors will get involved in an open format CTF competitions that will include virtual cybersecurity challenges within the domains of reconnaissance, cryptanalysis, operations security, forensics analysis, and malware analysis. Winners will be chose in each area and for the overall competition, with prizes awarded accordingly.
Later in the summer, from August 5 to September 5, 2022, selected 18-24 year-old cybersecurity athletes, will participate in virtual learning opportunities, hands-on exercises, as well as competitions. This combine will serve as a qualifying window, where athletes will undergo a cybersecurity aptitude assessment, interviews with difference coaches, the conclude with an advanced-level CTD qualifier round.
US Cyber Team Draft
Then, after the competitions and assessments, on October 17, 2022, two teams of drafted cybersecurity athletes will be invited to join the Season II US Cyber Team and represent the United states in different global cybersecurity competitions and challenges over the following year.
Individuals and organizations are encouraged to participate and support the initiative through joining as a coach. The call for coaches, whether from government, business or academia, is open until June 3, 2022. Of course, what is an esports competition without competitors? The call for competitors — which will be an opportunity to showcase skills, build new ones, and maybe qualify for the Season II US Cyber Team — is open until July 3, 2022. For potential sponsors who wish to support the program, they can visit the official sponsorship page for more details.
To learn more about the US Cyber Team and the US Cyber Games program, check out the official page for all their info and latest news.