Chicago Colleges to Host First DoD-Style Cyber Training


CHICAGO (AP) — The Department of Defense and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hope a new program will turn the city into a place where college students can learn how to out-maneuver hackers.

Emanuel and Frank DiGiovanni, director of force training with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, introduced a six-month pilot “cybersecurity boot camp” at one of the city’s community colleges on Wednesday. They said it is the first such partnership between a community college and the federal agency.

The program, scheduled to begin this spring at Wilbur Wright College on the city’s Northwest Side, will teach students essentially the same skills that hackers use to breach government and private companies’ computer systems. It’s modeled after a program offered to uniformed personnel at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., and will be available to military personnel, veterans and other students.

“If you are going to defend against that you need people that can go in and do penetration testing, find vulnerabilities in your operating systems and patch them before someone else does,” DiGiovanni said.

Despite the impending change in administration, Emanuel said he’s confident that the government will not divest in the program after Donald Trump takes office because cybersecurity is a “national security priority.”

Emanuel also cited an earlier comment from DiGiovanni, who said the DoD hopes the Chicago program will be the first of many across the United States.

“I think it will be permanent because their needs are permanent,” Emanuel said.

Both Emanuel and DiGiovanni said the demand for people with such skills far outstrips the number of people that have them, with the mayor saying that there are now 200,000 jobs created a year in cybersecurity.

The field is only expected to grow in the wake of high-profile breaches.