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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The current experts in fighting off virtual attacks like ransomware or viruses will each say that cyber defense is critical for the future.

“The cyber battlefield is growing more and more important every day,” Gray Analytics President Scott Gray said at Thursday’s National Cyber Summit. “And so that level of talent we have here (in Huntsville) can help in both regards.”

That is why some have turned to local talent to inherit the ever-changing cyber battlefield.

“We try to get as many young, passionate people that we can because they’re the future of cyber,” Huntsville-native Peyton guy said. “And the more that they learn, the earlier that we get them on, the better off we are at serving our community.”

Guy said his company H2L Solutions does just that with internship programs for local students, and New Century High School senior Sean Mehrotra relishes his opportunity with the company.

“Cyber is the future,” Mehrotra said. “If you look around, we’re all surrounded by cyber. Technology is always advancing. When technology advances, cyber and security is advancing with it as well.”

Internships aren’t the only starting point though. Dozens of students also took part in this year’s DeLoitte Cyber Cup to cap off the summit. Organizer Jason Brown said the competition symbolizes what America’s future in virtual security will look like.

“We find that most successful teams are ones that can communicate well, can collaborate over hard problems, and really sets them up for the future of the cyber workforce – which there’s a talent shortage,” Brown said. “And we want to start as early as we can to be able to prepare folks for being successful in their later career.”

Each of the student-led teams in this year’s Cyber Cup hailed from Alabama. The top prize of $5,000 went to a team from UAH.