SANS Institute brings cybersecurity program for prep girls

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Hawaii is partnering with the SANS Institute to bring the first major cyber-security program, specifically for young women, to the islands.

Gov. David Ige is encouraging high school girls to participate in GirlsGoCyberStart, the program designed for girls grades 9-12, who may be interested in pursuing a career in cyber security.

“I encourage young women to sign up and to become more familiar with what it takes to work in this high-demand field,” Ige said. “Women are sorely underrepresented in this industry, and this program aims to change that. Our students have the talent and drive to succeed in cyber security and other high-tech fields, and we will help guide them to exciting and high-wage careers.”

The first 10,000 eligible registrants will be invited to join an online game that runs Feb. 20 to 25, where participants play cyber protection agents protecting an important operation base. Entrants who excel will be recognized and eligible to win computers and other prizes, as well as a trip (with a parent) to the 2018 Women in CyberSecurity Conference in Chicago in March.

“This is a wonderful educational opportunity for young women to learn about the various careers in cyber security,” said Vincent Hoang, Office of Enterprise Technology Services chief information security officer. “Right now, only 11 percent globally and 14 percent nationally of the cyber-security workforce are women, and this program provides an outlet to inspire and empower high school girls who have a desire to enter the cyber-security field.”

The GirlsGoCyberStart program builds on last summer’s successful CyberStart pilot, in which 300 Hawaii students joined 3,500 youths from seven states in game simulations and activities that taught them basic skills and tested their aptitude.

Last year, 22 top performing Hawaii students each received a SANS cyber-security scholarship of $1,500. SANS reported that Hawaii had a far larger number of high scorers and scholarship winners on a per capita basis than any other state.

“The nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have evidence that CyberStart improves the quality of individuals entering the cyber-security field,” said Alan Paller, SANS director of research.

Registration for GirlsGoCyberStart starts on Jan. 29 and ends Feb. 16.

Info: www.girlsgocyberstart.com.

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