Florida Center for Cybersecurity

These Florida student organizations can jump-start your cybersecurity career

TAMPA, Fla. (August 23, 2016) – According to a recent Whitehouse report, student organizations and their competitions are key to building the cybersecurity workforce by increasing student awareness and interest in this dynamic field.

Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand. The current U.S. shortage of more than 200,000 qualified employees is expected to reach 1 to 2 million by 2019. Although a recent jump in the number of threats is one reason for this need for talent, that's just half the problem. The other half of the problem remains a lack of talent entering the field.

As a relatively new field, parents and guidance counselors don't encourage college-bound students to pursue a career in cybersecurity because they don't know much about the field, studies show.

That's where university cybersecurity clubs come in. At Florida's state universities, on-campus clubs and organizations are helping to create a culture of cybersecurity on campus and to give students valuable, hands-on experience.

In addition to inspiring new interest in the cybersecurity field and providing practical experience, they act as a valuable networking vehicle through meetings and research opportunities. Some clubs hold special events to promote internships or post-graduation employment opportunities.

Florida State University

The Florida State University Cybersecurity Club represents many disciplines, including computer science, information technology, criminology, law, education, business, public administration and healthcare. Students advance their technical skills and knowledge through various national and international events.

University of Central Florida

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Club @ UCF was unofficially founded in 2012. In Spring 2013, the Student Government Association named Collegiate Cyber Defense Club a registered student organization. This club is commonly known by its unofficial name, Hack@UCF. With over 200 members, this club brings a cybersecurity presence to the University of Central Florida through offense-based virtual Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions, tutorials, talks, workshops and guest speakers from major companies and corporations in the region. In April, the team won its third straight National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, beating out more than 180 college and university teams.

University of Florida

The Student InfoSec Team (SIT) at the University of Florida provides an environment to learn more about information security topics such as penetration testing, reverse engineering, exploit development and more. The SIT holds weekly, student-led meetings that frequently include presentations from local IT professionals and guest industry speakers. In addition to meetings, the SIT regularly participates in CTF events and hosts their own challenge to help members sharpen their skills.

University of South Florida

The Whitehatters Computer Security Club (WCSC) at the University of South Florida began in 2005 with the goal of developing a competitive team to play in DEFCON's Capture the Flag competition. Today, in addition to competitions, WCSC also raises information security awareness through multiple events such as boot camps, engineering expos and technology socials. Members attend weekly meetings, and USF students of all majors and skill levels are welcomed.

Kris Willis, president of the Whitehatters, says student organizations offer the opportunity for hands-on practice, something students don't get in traditional academia. "Students coming to the club get real-world experiences they'll encounter in the workplace, such as binary reverse engineering and system security administration."

About the Florida Center for Cybersecurity

Created during the 2014 legislative session, the Florida Center for Cybersecurity (FC2) is a shared resource for cybersecurity research, education and outreach across the state and beyond. The Center fosters collaboration between higher education, government, defense and business communities to share knowledge, resources and training opportunities that help mitigate cybersecurity threats and create opportunities for innovative solutions. Located at the University of South Florida, FC2 is leading efforts to position Florida as a national leader in cybersecurity.

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Media Contact: Kate Whitaker, 813-974-1229

Hack@UCF members, pictured with faculty advisor Thomas Nedorost, won their third consecutive National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition championship. Photo courtesy Raytheon Company.