Lincroft, NJ – Four Brookdale Community College students are among the 104 finalists in a statewide technology competition hosted by Governor Chris Christie and the Secretary of Higher Education. Dubbed the “New Jersey Governor’s Cyber Challenge,” the event will take place Saturday, March 23 at Brookdale, and will be administered by the Cyber Aces Foundation.

The goal of the competition is to identify New Jersey’s best cybersecurity talent, guide them into college training courses and, ultimately, into high-level security jobs. More than 600 New Jersey college students, active and veteran armed services members and jobseekers participated in the challenge’s first phase. The 104 finalists coming to Brookdale are its top scorers.

The four finalists from Brookdale are Flamur “Tony” Bomova (Freehold, NJ), Colin Mahns (Shrewsbury, NJ), Christian Nicholson (Freehold, NJ) and Keith Novak (Lincroft, NJ).

The top performers at the championship will be invited to enroll in the country’s first National Cyber Centers Network site to be located at Brookdale. This innovative program will provide students with an intensive cybersecurity curriculum including Brookdale courses, lab work, and residencies. Graduates will emerge with the essential skills needed to fill mission-critical jobs in cybersecurity.

Brookdale faculty, local SANS Institute faculty, and industry experts will supervise the training, provide support to students, and meet with students periodically to ensure their progress, with the goal of placing them in high-level security jobs, Brookdale Professor Mike Qaissaunee said.

“I am very pleased that a number of my students took the time to participate in this statewide competition and did well enough to be invited to the first New Jersey Governor’s Cyber Challenge,” notes Qaissaunee.

Qaissaunee started the Brookdale cybersecurity program with Ed Skoudis, a SANS Institute faculty fellow. Established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization, SANS Institute programs now reach more than 165,000 security professionals around the world. Skoudis is also the founder of the Wall, N.J.-based security firm Counter Hack.

NetWars, the system used by the U.S. Military, U.S. Government agencies and many businesses to evaluate and train their people, will be used in the championship. Participants will compete in two-and-a-half hour rounds: one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. An awards ceremony will follow.

“The security of our nation depends on our ability to build a reliable, scalable pipeline of skilled cybersecurity professionals,” said SANS Institute Director of Research Alan Paller. “In the war on cyber attacks, these talented professionals will be our best pilots.”

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