NJCCIC Kicks Off Cybersecurity Awareness Month, CyberStart America Competition in October
HAMILTON, NJ – Following Gov. Phil Murphy’s Sept. 15 proclamation recognizing October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell is ramping up efforts to promote the nation’s leading cyber competition, along with cyber safety across the Garden State this month and beyond.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month
New Jersey’s observance runs parallel to the national Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign, an initiative that’s marking its 20th anniversary in 2023.
The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency leads the campaign, and this year, will encourage individuals and organizations to take personal responsibility and ownership of their role as it pertains to cyber safety.
In lockstep with the national campaign’s objectives, the NJCICC, a division of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, is urging the public to implement several resiliency-building cyber hygiene practices, to include:
- Using strong passwords
- Enabling multifactor authentication
- Updating software
- Recognizing and reporting phishing incidents
“Cybercriminals can strike from any location and at any time and they are growing increasingly more sophisticated while using highly advanced tactics to infiltrate systems,” said NJOHSP Director Laurie Doran. “Since most cyber incidents have a human nexus, we hope these awareness campaigns will mitigate potential cyber threats by providing both the public and private sector with the necessary tools, knowledge and resources to safely navigate the new digital world we live in.”
For further information on cyber best practices and incident reporting or to sign-up for a free NJCCIC membership, which includes cyber-related updates, advisories and newsletters, visit cyber.nj.gov.
CyberStart America Competition
This week, the NJCCIC also announced an Oct. 16 start date for the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and SANS Institute-sponsored CyberStart America competition.
This no-cost annual online cybersecurity talent search invites students in grades nine through 12 to develop their cybersecurity and computer science abilities while competing for prizes and recognition for their schools, as well as individual scholarships.
Competitors hailing from all skill and knowledge levels work on their own or in collaboration with their class or school club to solve cybersecurity-related puzzles. CyberStart America exposes those students to such topics as code breaking, programming, networking and digital forensics.
“This program is an excellent opportunity for students to explore and hone their cyber skills while learning about the industry,” said NJCCIC Director Michael Geraghty. “There are currently more than 17,500 job openings for cybersecurity professionals in New Jersey, an increase of nearly 6,000 from last year. As technology continues to rapidly expand, CyberStart America is an outstanding tool we can use to encourage and motivate the next generation to pursue careers in this dynamic and vital field.”
The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation anticipates awarding the top 1,000 CyberStart America players a scholarship for the SANS Foundation course and one attempt at the GIAC Foundational Cybersecurity Technologies certification valued at over $3,000. A limited number of top performers in the GFACT certification exam will have the chance to apply for further scholarships to cover additional SANS training courses and certifications.
In 2022, 2,884 students from 231 New Jersey high schools participated, and of the 395 National Cyber Scholarship semifinalists from New Jersey, 18 were named scholars with honors.
Participants can register up until the final day of the competition, March 15, 2024, at cyberstartamerica.org.