Homeland Security Expands Cybersecurity Program for College Students
A program created to engage top-notch college students in cybersecurity work is expanding, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Secretary’s Honors Program Cyber Student Initiative, founded in April 2013 by then- Secretary Janet Napolitano, will select more than 100 students to work as volunteers in dozens of locations across the country in 2014. The student interns will spend several months in various jobs involving cybersecurity, providing them with valuable experience in the growing field.
Originally, the program volunteers worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations computer forensics labs. In December, DHS announced it was expanding the program beyond the Immigration and Customs labs to include placements with the federal Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the Secret Service and the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer.
In a statement, DHS executive Rand Beers said the expansion represents “a vital step in our efforts to cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity leaders and to attract the best and brightest cyber talent who are looking to pursue a career in public service.”
Cyber attacks are a looming concern for law enforcement authorities at the local, state and federal level. According to the DHS website, the agency has boosted its ranks of cybersecurity workers by 500% in recent years.
The creation of the Cyber Student Initiative came on the heels of a recommendation by the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Task Force on CyberSkills that the agency upgrade its relationship with community colleges and student veterans. It was one of 11 recommendations released by the task force in October 2012 aimed at helping DHS build a high-quality cybersecurity operation.
According to DHS, the student volunteers’ responsibilities may include researching virtual currencies with Secret Service agents, aiding in the decoding of files for forensic analysis at ICE labs and helping with network diagnostics at the Transportation Security Administration.
The program is designed for students pursuing studies in fields related to cybersecurity. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and be at least part-time students at accredited two- or four-year colleges.
The application deadline for the 2014 Secretary’s Honors Program is Jan. 17. Interested students can view a job posting and begin the application process by visiting www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/356670600.