BOISE, Idaho — A trio of college students is being honored after winning Boise State's Cybersecurity Entrepreneur Challenge.
As Idaho News 6 reported, Boise State's Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity put on the Cybersecurity Entrepreneur Challenge from October 11-18, 2021. As part of the challenge, students from colleges across the state teamed up to tackle problems put forward by industry leaders. Then, the teams pitched their ideas during Boise Entrepreneur Week.
"We wanted to try to get a cyber entrepreneur challenge, and our students across the state to understand how they could start a cyber company and join into this fight we have to protect our critical data and critical infrastructure," explained Edward Vasko, Director of the Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity.
The group made up of Alex Mitchell, Tatum Jones, and Cameron White decided to focus their pitch around ways to integrate cybersecurity tools with physical security—specifically real-time alerts and real-time data entry.
"Our goal was to try and create something, program or product that would hopefully combine the two and have them work together rather then separately," Mitchell explained.
The group is one of many teams working to bring innovative ideas to a growing industry.
"Cybersecurity is such an ever-growing field. There's constant learning and constant changes. You need new directions to come at it from, new mindsets, new ideas," Mitchell said.
As Idaho News 6 has reported, Idaho is seeing a huge boost in cybersecurity jobs.
Data Analysts from the Idaho Department of Labor looked at data from all over the state, and found cybersecurity jobs had grown 160 percent since 2015 — and a 28% increase in 2020 alone.
"Despite the nationwide pandemic, the number of cybersecurity job openings in Idaho saw a 28% increase in 2020 with an estimated 1,200 available postings through the course of the year. Since 2015, openings for cybersecurity jobs have grown by 160%, sustained by accelerating demand across multiple industry sectors," the report said.
The trio says helping people, along with the ability to be critical thinking and problem solvers, is what drew them to the field.
"Honestly it was something that just always spoke to me that was always something I was interested in," Jones said.
"Innovation doesn't happen unless there's a safe space for it to happen," White said. "By protecting your assets you're creating a better environment for your employees to be able to innovate freely knowing their stuff is secure."