Cybersecurity and Esports: An Unexpected Duo

Brandon McCauley
October 20th, 2021

While the cybersecurity world has been going through a rough patch lately with issues such as Twitch’s data leak and Microsoft’s DDoS battle, a neat and rather unexpected bit of news has entered the scene.

The United States is seeking to strengthen its cybersecurity forces by tapping into the minds of the country’s youth through a medium that is familiar to them: esports.

What? Esports for Cybersecurity?

You did not misread the introduction – esports are coming to the tech world! In an effort to both capture the interest of and provide extensive knowledge to students in the country, the United States has marketed an informative, yet engaging idea called the U.S. Cyber Games.

This team, which was established in April of this year and is funded by the NIST’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, has since drawn 25 Americans to it, ranging from ages 18 to 26, all of which will compete against other countries in the upcoming International Cybersecurity Challenge come June 2022.

Why does this exist?

The creation of the Cyber Games goes above and beyond the typical recruitment for positions in the world of cybersecurity. Instead of going through a list of various military personnel, internship programs, and schools of higher education, the Cyber Games promise to yield higher numbers for potential candidates for positions in both public and private sectors as it attracts more people.

While engagement succeeding in drawing interest, the driving force behind this is the fact that the competition serves to educate the players on the fundamentals of cybersecurity. A plethora of participants have noted that the Cyber Games make learning the material enjoyable! One in particular, whom of which is only 17-years-old, eagerly noted that “it was very new and very challenging and I really like the problem-solving aspect of it.”

How is it formatted?

The competition is composed of two different types of games: king-of-the-hill and capture-the-flag. In the former, one team tries to break into a network while the other team tries to defend it. In the latter, teams must complete a series of puzzles that adhere to basic tenets of cybersecurity programs, like decrypting an encrypted file or analyzing secret network traffic.

A Testament to the Future

As mentioned before, this program was set up as a Segway for young Americans to enter the cybersecurity world. Instead of having to endure an internship that may be unpaid, brilliant minds can thrust themselves into the spotlight by competing in the Cyber Games and potentially be recruited by a top-notch company. As the founder and CEO of Katzcy (a cybersecurity company), Jessica Gulick worded it, “the top names in the U.S. Cyber Games will be recognized in this industry… and they didn’t have to hack a Department of Defense System or a pipeline.”

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