By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  If you look at the numbers, the odds are that right now hackers are probing Department of Defense computers looking for a way to sneak in.  Keeping computers and their networks safe is a huge and vital business.

Mike Schuh has more on a first of its kind gathering to fight back.

The weapons in this war aren’t conventional. You can’t see them unless you know where to look. The disabling strike may come out of thin air.  Computer code could be delivered from next door or a continent away.

Now there’s a competition in Maryland to raise the bar.  Really smart people are making computers and their networks less vulnerable to attack.

“Plain and simple, we’re just geeking out.  The room is chock full of code warriors,” said Barry Hartman, participant.

“Many of our challengers, students and competitors are geeks,” said Dr. Rick Forno, UMBC Cyber Security.

And they’re proud of it. 

One team works for the government.  They’ve asked not to say their company’s name.  Unlike most cyber security conferences — which are invitation only — this one is open to anyone.

“Yes, we didn’t want this to be a government only event, Maryland being the center of cyber security.  We wanted it to appeal to a wide audience throughout Maryland,” said Forno.

In fact, more than 200 students — both high school and college —  will compete for scholarships on Saturday.  But the Opening Day Challenge at the Convention Center is for security professionals.

“So hopefully we’ll see things today we’ve never seen and take that and build on that and grow,” said Hartman.

Grow because during this challenge they’re not defenders.  They’re the hackers, the attackers, the very people in real life they try to thwart.

About $100,000 in scholarship money is on the line. The top prize for the winning high school and college teams is a $5,000 scholarship for each team member.


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