Thousand Oaks, California: California's government provides services that millions of people across the state rely on. Imagine what would happen if those systems fell victim to a cybersecurity attack.
Government officials spend a lot of time thinking about that scenario and are committed to supporting programs and events that help train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
Mario Garcia, Deputy Commander of California Cyber Security Integration Center, kicks off 2018 California Mayors Cyber Cup
One such event, the California Mayors Cyber Cup (CMCC) receives critical support from the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, (GO-Biz), California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Department of Technology.
The California Mayors Cyber Cup (CMCC), a program of the California Cyberhub, utilizes cyber competitions to spread awareness about cybersecurity and the many career opportunities that exist within that field. CMCC brings Students, parents, teachers, government officials, business leaders, and other stakeholders together to create awareness of cybersecurity issues and reinforce the connection between the community and our educational institutions to highlight the many career and business support resources available in each community.
This annual cycle of activity culminates in a statewide competition with students located in 12 regions throughout California competing simultaneously, on behalf of their home city, for regional perpetual trophies that will be displayed in the winning team's city hall for the coming year.
At this year's CMCC on February 23, California Department of Technology Director Amy Tong will address students and community members in Sacramento at the event's closing ceremonies. Mario Garcia, Commander of the California Cybersecurity Integration Center, will kick off the event across the state in a video conference to more than 270 teams comprised of 1300 competitors and representing 150 cities, teachers, coaches and community members.
Garcia said events like the CMCC are critically important to build the pipeline of cybersecurity workers needed throughout California, across the U.S. and around the world.
"Cybersecurity is the number one threat nationwide: it impacts every government entity, business, educational institution, and each one of us personally. California Cyberhub is helping to unify California's efforts to fill over 35,000 open cybersecurity jobs by encouraging the development of cyber education and cyber competition opportunities," Garcia said.
He also had a message to the students themselves.
"Those opportunities are just waiting for you to get involved, get prepared, and graduate. Hurry up, we need you!"
Tong said the CMCC and other cyber events are important parts in the pathway from middle and high school through college and into the cybersecurity workforce.
"We are helping to create a recruitment pipeline that starts in K-12 and continues through community college and the university level," Tong said. "We want to help students see themselves as public servants."
Eileen Sanchez, chief defense industry cybersecurity resilience and innovation program manager for GO-Biz, said business support for events like the CMCC is critical as innovations continue to push the boundaries of technology and create new cybersecurity threats in the process.
"California businesses need a next generation cybersecurity leaders and entrepreneurs to protect everything from our personal health data, to our defense and aerospace innovations, to the development of autonomous vehicles," Sanchez said. "The California Mayors Cyber Cup demonstrates California's commitment to educate and encourage young cyber professionals in order to fill 37,000 open cybersecurity positions."
CMCC this year will help add 1,000 cyber teams and develop supporting cyber education programs across the state, including more teams in rural and economically-depressed areas. Many CMCC events are held at community colleges and CSUs with the intention of highlighting cybersecurity degrees, certificates and cyber career resources offered at California's education institutions.