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CISA Gears Up for President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition

Registration opens in January for federal employees to test real-world cyber situations.

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CISA Gears Up for President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition
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The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is opening its fifth annual President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition in January. The event offers federal employees an opportunity to sharpen their cybersecurity skills through a series of tests based on real-world cyber situations.

“As cyber threats continue to grow, our country needs a strong and vast workforce filled with cyber talent to understand, manage, and reduce risk to our cyber and physical infrastructure,” CISA told GovCIO Media & Research. “CISA hosts the President’s Cup annually to identify, recognize and reward the cybersecurity professionals in the federal government that are on the front lines defending against those cyber threats.”

The competition’s tasks are crafted to correspond with the skills and responsibilities specified in the NICE Framework, a workforce framework aimed at cultivating and advancing cybersecurity talent. This ensures that all challenges are grounded in real-world topics and issues.

The competition prioritizes cyber talent through recognizing highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals who many times are unnoticed, according to CISA. In addition, the agency created the President’s Cup Practice Area, which allows federal employees the opportunity to try previous challenges from the last four competitions.

“This gives federal employees an opportunity for continued skill development as well as exposure to different types of threat actor tactics and common vulnerabilities that they may not see in their everyday work,” CISA said.

Last year’s participants tackled cybersecurity challenges using a wide variety of technologies and tools like open-source software to bring tasks to life.

“Some commonly used software includes Ghidra for reverse engineering, Metasploit for penetration testing, Security Onion for threat hunting and intrusion detection, VyOS routers, pfSense firewalls, GitLab version control and continuous integration, Kubernetes container deployments, Pritunl zero trust architecture, and Python for scripting solutions,” CISA said.

The competition is aligned with CISA’s 2023-2025 Strategic Plan, aiming to enhance its ability to identify threats within federal networks. Part of the plan is increasing collaboration with industry partners to improve understanding of potential threats.

“This whole-of-government effort begins with CISA’s workforce, which must have the right credentials, expertise and skills, and the President’s Cup epitomizes the level of excellence required to meet this goal, both as a competition and a training opportunity,” CISA said.

Registration for the 2024 competition opens Jan. 3. All federal employees are encouraged to register, competitors can participate individually and/or as part of a team with a maximum of five members.

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