On November 4 and 5, college and university students from across the United States will battle it out in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) annual CyberForce Competition®. The event, led by DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, will be held in a hybrid virtual and in-person format for 2022 after two years of virtual-only competitions. 

The competition is part of DOE's CyberForce® Program, which increases hands-on cyber education for college students to inspire and develop the next generation of energy sector cyber defenders. Through participation in simulated threat scenarios, students learn and practice skills that will better position them to enter the cybersecurity workforce.  

Each CyberForce Competition® features an interactive, energy scenario where participants test their cyber defense skills in real time. This year’s competition will pit student teams against one another to defend against a simulated cyberattack on a solar-powered electric vehicle manufacturing plant. Students will be charged with helping the manufacturer harden and secure the systems of its solar installation, which appears to have been compromised. The teams will assess its vulnerabilities and produce a series of innovations to protect and strengthen it against existing and future attacks. The program reflects DOE’s firm commitment to bolstering the future cybersecurity workforce and underlines the importance of preparing for the future of the U.S. energy sector, which will rely heavily on clean energy and associated infrastructure.   

“As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, DOE is committed to developing our current and future workforce to defend our nation against evolving threats, especially through interactive events like the CyberForce competition,” said Puesh Kumar, Director of DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). “This year’s competition focuses on showing students what it takes to secure solar energy systems—a major priority for CESER, DOE as a whole, and the Biden Administration.” 

The competition is managed by CESER, with Argonne as the lead national laboratory providing leadership, planning, and subject matter expertise. Other DOE national laboratories, partnering with Argonne to provide support to the competition are Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.   

Thanks to continued DOE investment, the expanded CyberForce® Program includes Conquer the Hill, a series of engaging, interactive mini competitions that give students further opportunities to learn, grow, and test their skills alongside their peers. In the Conquer the Hill: Reign Edition competition held on August 6 of this year, Cameron Whitehead from the University of Central Florida battled his way to the top by hacking into simulated server rooms, decoding messages, and solving puzzles in a head-to-head platform-style video game. This victory was his second triumph in the CyberForce Competition® arena. 

The CyberForce® Program offers more than its virtual and in-person challenges, such as webinars with guest speakers and subject matter experts, and a virtual career fair that is open to all CyberForce Program participants. To learn more about the CyberForce Competition® on November 4 and 5, read Argonne National Laboratory’s press release on the event. For more information about the program, visit https://cyberforce.energy.gov/.