News NetWars at the SANS Cyber Defense Initiative 2013

An individual’s technical skills can carry her professionally for quite a distance in virtually every industry. The world of cyber security is no exception to this rule, evidenced by a shift in hiring choices being made by many organizations, especially government agencies. In this day and age, protecting classified information is of utmost importance, and many employers are focused on filling their teams with people whose technical skills shine the brightest. If you asked the best of the best cyber security professionals, where do you think they’d say they gained their most valuable knowledge? It probably wasn’t in a lecture, that’s for sure.

When it comes to developing technical skills, there’s nothing that competes with the opportunity to get real, hands-on experience. Enter the SANS Institute—a cooperative research and education organization with a heavy emphasis on hands-on technical training. The Institute has a wide range of training programs that reach over 165,000 security professionals worldwide, through which they teach the best, most current practices for cyber security.

Today marks the opening of the SANS Cyber Defense Initiative 2013, a week-long educational experience in Washington DC, where cyber security professionals from all over the nation will get together to sharpen their skills. In addition to the classes and other events happening throughout the week, on December 15th and 16th they will be hosting the second annual NetWars Tournament of Champions. This event brings together the most skilled security professionals to battle against one another.

The tournament tests the competitors through four levels of cyber security training: defensive, offensive, analytic, and the ability to fight off intruders while simultaneously taking over target systems and networks. Competitors who did the best in the previous NetWars Tournament of Champions will battle once again to see who’s done their homework and improved the most. There will also be over a hundred new participants who will be bringing their skills to the competitive table.

Ed Skoudis, the director of NetWars explains, “The cyber security field needs people with hands-on skills, the hunters who can find the flaws before the bad guys do.” The SANS Institute provides the opportunity for these talented professionals to harness the skills they have, and strengthen those that need work. “The idea with NetWars is to provide the hands-on skills in defense, analytics and offense, answering the questions of what a really awesome person would need to know,” Skoudis said, “We built it with the ideal candidate for a cyber-defender and warrior in mind, and that’s something participants strive for.”

The way that NetWars turns learning through hands-on experience into a gaming tournament of sorts creates a new and exciting approach to bulking up your professional skills. Throughout the tournament, participants are given scorecards that rate their level of defensive, offensive, and analytic cyber security skills, and notes their skills that could use improvement.

If you want to learn more of the details about the NetWars Tournament of Champions, you can find everything you need to know on the SANS Institute website.

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