For Immediate Release - May 20, 2014

Massachusetts Hosts The Governor’s Cyber Aces State Championship

Massachusetts’ cyber elite attend security competition using U.S. military simulation

BOSTON – Saturday, May 3, 2014 – On Saturday, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki, Director of Workforce Development Marybeth Campbell, Lt. Colonel Richard Berthao, the Director of Information Management for the Massachusetts National Guard, and Lt. Colonel Thatcher Kezer, Director of Cyberspace Operations for the Massachusetts National Guard, joined dozens of jobs seekers, veterans and members of our armed forces from local high schools, community colleges and universities competed in a statewide cybersecurity championship at UMass Boston, where they were able to show off their skills and knowledge in cyber security. The event was hosted in partnership with the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Advisory Council, the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, and the national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Cyber Aces.


“The Cyber Aces program is part of our collective efforts in Massachusetts to recruit, train and employ the best talent in cybersecurity,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “I congratulate all of the participants and award winners at today’s competition and thank all nonprofit, industry and military partners for making this event a success to benefit our workforce, the Commonwealth’s economy, and national security.”


The participants who attended today’s event were the top performers in a series of online tutorials and quizzes called “Net Wars” that were completed by more than 10,000 people nationwide and 1,051 in Massachusetts. These live “Net Wars” games are exciting, high-stakes simulations of real world scenarios with a real-time scoreboard. The program tested participants in system hardening, packet analysis, digital forensics and vulnerability assessment.


Massachusetts’ state champions, from first to third place, are:


  1. Kevin Murphy, 30, Weymouth
  2. Connor Quick, 17, Gardner
  3. Mark Mossberg, 19, Boston


These champions earned their share of $10,000 in scholarships and opportunities for further training.


Last September at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Governor Patrick launched a statewide competition to challenge the Commonwealth’s most talented and ambitious to show off their skills and knowledge in cyber security. Today’s competition was organized by Cyber Aces, a national nonprofit organization working to discover and develop talent and build pathways to critical cybersecurity jobs. Since September, Cyber Aces has been running an online competition accompanied by several training courses to identify and develop top talent within Massachusetts in order to meet the demand for skills in the growing field of cyber security.


“There are too many frequent flyers and not enough fighter pilots,” said Cyber Aces Founder Alan Paller, Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Cybersecurity Co-Chair and SANS Institute Director of Research. “We need a new group of cyber defenders who can out-think and out-maneuver attackers. In two years, they’ll have the skills that will make them some of the most sought-after candidates on the job market.”


Cyber security represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Massachusetts and the nation. It is an issue with tremendous national security implications and a field with unmet demand for the jobs of the 21st century economy. Cybersecurity jobs will be one of the highest paying occupations in the Information Technology (IT) industry and cybersecurity talent is needed in the public and private sectors to counteract the increasing number of cyber-attacks on government agencies and businesses. The Cyberskills Task Force reported that the number of cyber-attacks increased by 200% in 2012.


According to a recent Cisco analysis, demand for IT professionals is increasing as it is the second fastest growing field in the nation. Additionally, it is expected that 10,000 jobs will be needed for elite cyber technicians and 55,000 jobs will be needed for operators and administrators nationwide. Yet, there is a critical shortage of qualified candidates to fill these positions. The Governor’s Cyber Aces State Championship will continue to provide skill training for careers in cyber security to help close that gap in Massachusetts and across the nation.


The Governor’s Cyber Aces State Championship in Massachusetts is organized by Cyber Aces in conjunction with the state’s Executive Offices of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, Housing and Economic Development, Public Safety and Security, the Massachusetts National Guard and the Department of Veterans Services. The Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force Co-Chaired by Governor Patrick, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and former Senator William “Mo” Cowan and the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council partnered with Cyber Aces to plan for and launch this initiative. Congressman Joe Kennedy currently serves as the honorary chair of the STEM Advisory Council.


“The 21st century is confronting us with online threats that are difficult and dangerous. We must train and educate our service members to have the right skills to combat these challenges,” said Major General L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. “The world is increasingly interconnected as our commerce, national defense and education system are dependent on cyber security and we all must share the responsibility of securing this critical infrastructure.”


“The Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) is excited to partner with the Commonwealth and Cyber Aces to develop the state’s next-generation cyber workforce,” said ACSC Executive Director Charlie Benway. “Our members, who are leading the way in cutting-edge cyber security, are eager to help fulfill Governor Patrick’s vision of a talent pipeline that further positions Massachusetts as a leader in facing the nation’s most advanced cyber threats.”