The first official c-Watch cohort kicks off later this month, using sport to help train cybersecurity experts skilled in information-sharing environments. And by July, c-Watch students will be part of a pop-up security operations center for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia — doing the cyber threat intelligence work that’s now so critical during high-profile sport events.

Why the combination of sport and cybersecurity?

It turns out international sporting events are irresistible to cybercriminals. The sophisticated attacks they launch during widely-watched competitions can give experts strong leads on newly engineered malware and tactics. They serve as a kind of early-warning system, because those same tactics are highly likely to be used for other attacks in the following months.

Registration is under way for the cohort starting April 30, which will see participants undertake 10 weeks of intensive online training and skill development in cyber threat analysis, working with mentors and collaborating with peers.

The week-long World Cup capstone will then give students a chance to put everything they’ve learned into practice, to detect emerging cyber threats in the early stages and to solve the mysteries behind attacks.

c-Watch gives students access to practicing professionals in the field of threat intelligence and real-world experience in a SOC, according to Doug DePeppe, co-founder and board president of the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit Cyber Resilience Institute, which created the cyber workforce program.

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“Instruction is organized in three tracks, to enable students with diverse backgrounds to join an interdisciplinary team,” according to an email from CRI. “The three tracks are: Policy, Tradecraft, and Social Media. Each is focused on growing knowledge along the intelligence continuum: collection, analysis, sharing and reporting.”

Training is on a virtual platform, so students can work from anywhere. They’ll learn about indicators of compromise, data ingestion and data enrichment, as well as about how social media is used in cyber threat analysis. For the pop-up SOC, they can work through a period of the World Cup on their own schedule.

The “elixir of sport” is the draw, DePeppe said, but the training, skills and graduates go well beyond the sports arena. To build better cyber capacity, communities nationwide need cybersecurity experts experienced in information-sharing environments, he explained — and Colorado Springs is the ideal launching pad for building out a national initiative.

“For economic vitality, prominence begets opportunity. Silicon Valley is synonymous with the tech industry; New York City with financial markets; Los Angeles with the movie industry, and so on,” DePeppe said. “Those markets attract those respective industry leaders, and business opportunities often result. Colorado Springs has been seeking to position itself in cybersecurity for quite some time. Meanwhile, as Olympic City USA, it has clearly established itself in the sport industry.  

“With Sports-ISAO and the c-Watch Program, what we have done is couple sport and cyber in a way that has already shown that it has national and international attraction.”

c-Watch trains students from a wide range of age groups and educational backgrounds. To begin the registration process, send resumes and complete the form at http://bit.ly/Join_c-Watch2018.