POMONA, CA – The fifth Annual Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition kicked off at the Sheraton Fairplex Convention Center today in a fiery start with 80 college and university students from California and Arizona racing to keep an elite group of hackers out of their computer networks, desktops and phones.

Students are asked to administer, protect, and secure an existing corporate network while faced with numerous hurdles and challenges that will ultimately test their ability to protect sensitive and confidential information from outside attackers.

“Is our information safe? What can be done to ensure we are not the next (target)?” asked keynote speaker Mahvash Yazdi, Chief Information Officer of Southern California Edison. “These are the types of questions being asked in the board members…and rightfully so. We saw companies and individuals targeted all over the world.”

The lack of security in the digital world is a global and growing issue. With increasingly sophisticated attacks, advanced persistent threats, more deadly, lethal, and destructive malware, and insider threats, it is providing an increasingly more challenging environment to secure. Governments are realizing that the cyber threats are indeed real and pose a risk to our nation’s critical infrastructure.

“These people are the future in preventing and detecting cybercrime.” said Laura Chappell, founder and senior protocol analyst of Wireshark University. “They will save the government and private sector  time, money, and reputation. These competitions provide real world proving grounds with real world threats in a fast paced, dynamic environment. “

This year’s competition is being fought by students from California State University Dominguez Hills, California State University Northridge, California State University San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, Chaffey College, San Bernardino Valley College, Mount San Antonio College, DeVry University, Westwood College and University of Advancing Technology.

The competition continues until March 25 where the winning school will advance to the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

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