By Laura Newell
Cyber crime is becoming a threat and officials are asking for help from interested students.
Rep. Dan Lungren, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cyber Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, has been focused on Cyber Security since returning to Congress in 2005.
Last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned in the New York Times of a "Cyber-Pearl Harbor" attack with the potential to disable the nation's power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government.
Lungren said he shares Panetta's concerns and has been a staunch advocate for bolstering the country's cyber warfare capabilities and safeguards.
"Our nation is under attack by cyber terrorists," Lungren said. "What can we do? We can make sure our young people understand what's going on out there and provide them with cyber education. Folsom Lake College has shown interest in working with the area of cyber security."
On Oct. 15, Lungren and other local, state, national and academic stakeholders discussed the cyber threat and offered solutions about growing and training a cyber security workforce locally though the California community college system. The discussion was held at Folsom Lake Community College to bring awareness to local students.
"Why come out here to Folsom?" Lungren asked in the discussion. "Because Folsom has one of the largest schools in the region. We want this available to students."
Lungren and Alan Paller, founder of a cyber-security training institute in Bethesda, MD, called System Administration, Networking and Security (SANS), spoke on the threats and offered solutions including getting high school students to participate in "cyber competitions" that will identify their cyber aptitude and rate their chances of becoming cyber security force of the future. Panetta as well as the Department of Homeland Security said this force is in critically short supply, Lungren said.
Acting Special Agent In Charge Tom Osborne, Intelligence Branch Cyber expert, said this cyber threat is real and never-ending.
"This is not going away and it affects every part of our community," Osborne said. "Soon cyber crime may be our number one concern."
Lungren said students now have the opportunity to learn more about this issue with the cyber competition.
"I really want our young people to understand that this is here for them and this competition is a great entryway for a future education and career in this cyber nation," Lungren said.
J.C. Cline, 15, of Orangevale attended the discussion. He plans to enter the cyber competition and eventually work in this field.
"I've been playing with computers since I was 10 years old," Cline said. "I'm interested in this career because I'll always be learning more stuff. This is never-ending learning. I'm driven to learning new and exciting things."
Lungren said the U. S. is facing a shortage of technical cyber security experts. He said the greatest need is for workers with extensive hands-on experience in forensics and reverse engineering, penetration testing, incident handling and security engineering, with actual experience applying these skills to solve real-world cyber security problems.
For more information on the cyber competition, jobs in cyber forensics, cyber defense and penetration testing, visit cyberfoundations.org.