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Training cyber defenders around the world

Raytheon launches its global Cyber Academy in the UAE to help bridge the talent gap

Dr. Keith Harrison, a CIAS instructor, provides pointers to a Khalifa University student.

When President Obama announced his Cybersecurity National Action Plan, he wrote that building a corps of cyber professionals across government was one of the keys to battling cyber threats, “among the most urgent dangers to America’s economic and national security.”

And while the U.S. faces a shortage of cyber defenders, the need for talent is even greater in other countries. To help bridge this worldwide gap, Raytheon launched a global cyber education program with two key events in the United Arab Emirates.

"Raytheon has a special relationship with the UAE. This partnership will advance our shared interests in global security," said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. "Raytheon's three decades of cybersecurity expertise, together with the advanced research at Khalifa University, will help build cybersecurity knowledge and skills in the Emirates."

The forum brought together government, academic and cybersecurity industry leaders to identify actions needed to develop cyber talent. Chris Inglis, former U.S. National Security Agency deputy director, delivered a keynote address to about 140 attendees, covering cyber threats and some of the available techniques for fighting them. Raytheon partnered with The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington to present the UAE Security Forum.

“Events like the UAE Security Forum help link us in academia with government and industry so that we are together crafting a cybersecurity future, instead of everybody operating inside of silos,” said Dr. Lydia Kostopoulus, Khalifa University assistant professor, cybersecurity and statecraft.

A four-day cyber skills workshop, taught by two experts from the the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas-San Antonio in the U.S., was held for 55 Khalifa students. It taught students how to secure Windows server and operating systems.

“The students in this class were amazing — they were excited, motivated, very intelligent and very quick to pick up the concepts, and very quick to apply them in exactly the right manner,” said instructor Dwayne Williams, who also directs the Raytheon-sponsored National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, an annual contest for cybersecurity student teams.

“All of the students were excited, they were happy and they were interested in learning more,“ said Maha Kadadha, an Academy attendee.

The workshop concluded with a capstone cyber contest that paired students up to test their new-found knowledge.

“Their job was to use all the techniques and skills that they had learned during the previous three days of study. The students who did the best, coming out on top to win, found the most vulnerabilities,” Williams said.

Williams hopes to expand cyber competitions internationally. He believes the Raytheon-sponsored UAE Security Forum and Cyber Academy at Khalifa University will help generate interest from colleges and universities in the region.

Because of the global need for cyber talent and the success of the events in the United Arab Emirates, Raytheon intends to reach out to other partner countries to extend the Cyber Academy.

“The UAE Security Forum and Cyber Academy were hugely important because we know that globally that there is a cybersecurity talent deficit,” said Lindsey Borg, Raytheon IIS communications director. “Being able to come to an institution of learning like Khalifa University and invest in individual students to build their cyber skills, helps us bridge that gap."

Published: 02/10/2016

Last Updated: 04/28/2016

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