Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers cover the U.S. Cyber Challenge for CNN:
With the coolness of a card shark at the final table of the World Series of Poker, Matt Bergin pulls the hood of his brown sweatshirt over his head and concentrates on the task at hand.
The task: hacking into as many target computers as he can and then defending those computers from attacks by other skilled hackers.
Other skilled hackers like Michael Coppola, 17, a high school senior who, at this very moment, is hunched over a keyboard in his Connecticut home.
Or like Chris Benedict, 21, from the tiny town of Nauvoo, Illinois. Chris is sitting silently nearby, one of 15 “All Star” hackers who have taken over this spacious hotel conference room.
At days end, the moderator of this unusual computer challenge declares the best of the best: Benedict is the winner, king of the hacker hill, followed by Bergin and Coppola.
The trio — a job seeker, a grape distributor for a vineyard and a student — are precisely the type of people whom organizers of this event hoped to attract: young techies with perhaps little formal computer education who, nonetheless, could contribute to the defense of the nation’s cybernetworks.
In many cases, organizers of the U.S. Cyber Challenge say, hackers’ skills go unrecognized or unappreciated by those around them and sometimes even by themselves.
“I thought that I would get demolished,” Benedict said. “I didn’t think I would get anything at all.”
Organizers say the competition is aimed at identifying young people with exceptional computer skills and inspiring them to join the country’s woefully understaffed ranks of cybersecurity specialists needed to protect systems used by the military, industry and everyday people…
[continues at CNN]