Cyber criminals, meet the 'Cyber Patriots'on February 25, 2013 @ 5:46 am (Updated: 8:27 am - 2/25/13 )
Is America prepared to handle these cyber attacks?
Most cyber security experts believe a coordinated attack on America's computer systems could bring this country to its knees.
"If we get a cyber attack, it's going to make Katrina look like a picnic," said Retired Air Force General Bernie Skoch. "Every aspect of what we do depends on cyber systems. If bad guys come in, and they're coming in every day, then we are in serious trouble."
General Skoch is hoping to prevent that kind of attack by training the next generation of cyber system defenders. He calls them the Cyber Patriots. The program was started a few years ago when it became clear that America wasn't producing enough people with the math and science skills needed to protect the country's computer systems.
"A national security issue is that we're not recruiting enough bright, young men and women to technical career fields in the United States to feed the technical workforce that drives our economy," said Skoch.
Just like robotics programs in the schools that look to get high school kids excited about engineering and science. The CyberPatriot Program trains kids to protect computer systems.
"The first thing we teach these student is cyber ethics and how terrible things you can post on Facebook at this age in your life can affect your employability for the rest of your life," said General Skoch. "We teach them about cyber bullying. We teach them about cyber safety and how to protect personal identity information."
Skoch said high school teams spend the year learning and then they compete online to see who can find the vulnerabilities in computers systems and fix them the fastest. The top schools head to a national competition in Washington, D.C. The winners get scholarship money and some have even been offered jobs right out of high school.
A handful of Washington high schools are participating in this program, but Skoch is hoping to expand in our state. His team will discuss the program in front of the legislature Monday.
"It gives students an opportunity for career progression," he said. "It prepares them the careers of tomorrow, and it also builds a technical workforce. We want to be in every high school in America."
More than 1,200 high school teams across the country are now involved in this program.
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