WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and Argonne National Lab (ANL) announced the winner of the CyberForce® Conquer the Hill Competition – Reign Edition. This year’s competition featured a virtual escape room-style game in which competitors hacked into server rooms, interacted with AI robots, decoded messages to solve puzzles and crown themselves the winner. On Saturday, August 6, that crown of victory was handed to Cameron Whitehead, a student from the University of Central Florida!

Reign is the second of two smaller individual competitions added to the CyberForce Program in 2021. The annual CyberForce Competition, in comparison, is intended for collaborative teams from colleges and universities.

“The CyberForce Program provides different opportunities for those interested in gaining skills such as team or individual and in-person or virtual based events, which opens the doors for all,” said Amanda Theel, CyberForce Program Director with Argonne National Labs. “This program is unique and we continue to grow. The Conquer the Hill – Reign Edition was revamped this year to provide a graphical interactive game that provided competitors a storyline to engage with while still growing their skills in cybersecurity.”

The CyberForce Program has also grown to feature webinars, a virtual career fair, and an online workforce portal where students can evaluate their cyber skills, check job boards, and learn about upcoming events and training. These expansions demonstrate DOE’s support of the Biden Administration’s goal of building a pipeline of skilled cyber defenders to fill the nearly 500,000 currently-unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States.

“This program gives future cybersecurity talent the opportunity to engage with and learn from national laboratory experts and industry no matter where they live or where they are in their careers,” said CESER Director Puesh Kumar. “Competitions like the Reign Edition give us a front seat at innovating and developing the next generation of energy cybersecurity professionals.”

Students’ next opportunity to compete will be in the 2022 CyberForce Competition, which will span Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. This year’s competition will be a hybrid in-person and virtual event, where participants will test their cyber defense skills in real time. The in-person portion of the event will be held at the Q Center in St. Charles, Illinois. Student teams can apply to compete until mid-September. Teams are reviewed on the completeness of their application, diversity of knowledge, and the thoughtfulness of their makeup of their team, and competing is free.

All participating students are also invited to attend CyberForce’s Virtual Career Fair, which will be held on October 12 at 1:00 p.m. ET. This virtual event will be hosted on Brazen which will offer exhibitors the ability to customize booths, have multiple representatives, and can post jobs/internships and ask questions prior to speaking with any participants.

CyberForce® began as a cyber defense competition in 2016 with eight competing teams and grew to more than one hundred teams in 2019. It added virtual participation as an option in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the CyberForce Program offers many opportunities for the next generation of cyber professionals to advance their cyber skills. To learn more, visit https://cyberforce.energy.gov/.