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DRI Cybersecurity Internship Program

brandon instructingIn 2018, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno partnered with the SANS Institute ( -- a world-renowned internet security research and education organization -- to launch a cybersecurity internship program at DRI. This semester-long program takes place during fall 2018, and provides training, certification and hands-on experience for individuals interested in obtaining marketable job skills related to cybersecurity.

What do interns learn?
During the semester-long internship, participants will work under DRI’s Chief Information Security Officer, Brandon Peterson, to gain hands-on experience building cyberinfrastructure using best practices from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The internship will prepare students to install, configure, and harden operating systems; validate operating systems against NIST standards; and cover penetration and testing. Students will learn to treat malware infections, defend against real-time denial of service attacks, and provide security awareness training to end-users. Students will also train in DRI’s new cyber range to practice state-of-the-art hacking tools in our advanced facilities.

“Cybersecurity is incredibly essential to many aspects of our lives and careers, as well as to much of the infrastructure that we rely on in our communities, whether we realize it or not. This internship will provide a fantastic opportunity for interested individuals to gain hands-on experience and marketable job skills related to cybersecurity, as well as professional certifications that we hope will help participants find employment if they choose to continue down this career path.” 

-Meghan Collins, DRI Cybersecurity Internship Program Manager

How were the interns selected?
To apply for the 2018 cybersecurity internship program, candidates completed an online application and took part in a five-day SANS CyberStart Game held on the DRI campus in Reno in June. The game, which required no previous cybersecurity experience, helped to gauge the applicant’s skills in solving puzzles, cracking codes, and creating new software tools to find security flaws.

Of the 34 applicants who took part in the CyberStart Game, 16 were selected for the 2018 DRI cybersecurity internship program. Interns are now in the process of completing a 120-hour internship at DRI, which runs from August to December 2018. The internship will culminate in the completion of the CyberStart Essentials Certification exam. 

How is this program funded?
Funding for this new program was provided by a STEM Workforce Challenge Grant from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. STEM Workforce Challenge Grants seek to create lasting partnerships between Nevada’s STEM industries and workforce training providers focusing on certificate and degree programs of two years or less. SANS training and certification of the 15 interns (at a value of more than $7,000 per intern) has been made possible by a generous in-kind donation from the SANS Institute.

Is this a paid internship?
This internship is unpaid. Students can earn TMCC or WNC credit for this 120-hour, semester-long experience (the student is responsible for the cost of credits at their respective institutions).

cybersecurity class 2018 cybersecurity class

Cybersecurity Internship 2018 

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