CHICAGO – Illinois’ leading role in recruiting Veterans and career changers to enter the cybersecurity workforce shines this Saturday in the state’s first ever Cyber Aces State Championship, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) said today.
Illinois’ top 125 participants have accepted invitations to Championship Saturday following a year-long competition led by Gov. Pat Quinn to identify individuals with skills conducive to seeking a cybersecurity career in the military or private sector. Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills will host the championship in which participants will compete in NetWars, a simulation utilized by the U.S. Air Force.
“These contestants blend common sense with computer savvy to show they have the talent to excel in the demanding cybersecurity industry,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “Cybersecurity is real. Whether these careers are in the military guarding our country or in retail or banking protecting our vital information, a cybersecurity career offers a life-long opportunity and economic security.”
Cyber Aces, a national not-for-profit organization working to identify and develop talent and build pathways to cybersecurity positions, organized the state championship.
“There are too many frequent flyers and not enough fighter pilots,” said Cyber Aces Founder Alan Paller, Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Cybersecurity Co-Chair and SANS Institute Director of Research. “We need a new group of cyber defenders who can out-think and out-maneuver attackers.”
This tournament-styled effort included more than 3,160 individuals from 513 Illinois communities. The high school students, adults, Veterans and career-changers competed virtually to showcase skills needed to protect and probe computer data in the public and private sector. Tournament challenges revolved around three critical modules: computer networking, operating systems and system administration. The free competition was open to everyone and included online training modules, practice exercises and quizzes.
Cybersecurity positions are among the fastest growing, most secure and highest paid in the Information Technology field. The Defense Department's Cyber Command plans to increase its workforce to 4,000, up from 900. Private sector opportunities in cybersecurity also are expanding rapidly.
No other state recruited more cybersecurity competitors then Illinois. Illinois' recruitment success was rooted in IDES' ability to send specific emails to individuals registered with Illinoisjoblink.com, the state's help-wanted job board, especially to Veterans. Individuals can choose to receive information from IDES regardless of their employment status.
About Cyber Aces
The Cyber Aces Foundation is a not-for-profit working to discover talent and provide a pathway to employment in critical cybersecurity jobs. The foundation challenges students, Veterans and jobseekers with training and competition, develops their abilities with cybersecurity education and prepares them for cybersecurity careers. It is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit cyberaces.org.
More than 130,000 help-wanted ads are on Illinoisjoblink.com, the IDES employment website that links job seekers with employers. Keyword matching technology increases the likelihood of a successful new hire and compares favorably to private efforts that cost hundreds of dollars for a single advertisement. No-cost HR recruitment services are available at the website and at (877) 342-7533.